"My own words echo back down,
Like rain on my head,
And I wonder if God is even listening, or if He cares.
If She is even there."
-from my journal
The truth is, I haven't prayed in months. I wonder if it's all glass up there. Cries for help, for deeper understanding, asking for answers, they just echo chaos back down on me.
I was taught things about prayer like, "Ask and it shall be given to you, Seek and you shall find, Knock and the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7 (KJV)
I pictured God as a mix between Santa Claus and the Genie in Aladdin's lamp, complete with the voice of Robin Williams (may he Rest In Peace). I believed if I did all the right things and followed after God's will, God would somehow magically meet my every request.
But God ain't no beck-and-call girl.
You can't just rub Buddha's belly on your way out of the Temple or the Chinese restaurant and expect that things are now supernaturally going to fall into place and your whole existence will now make sense.
“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God.” John 4:24 (The Message)
You want to know the most powerful prayer I've ever prayed? It was September 24, 2012, three days after I should have died. I rolled over, sat up, and slowly placed my feet on the floor. The nurse rolled me down the hall, from the ICU room to the psych ward. When that looming metal door clanged shut, I whispered, "If you're there, help me."
The act of choosing to get better was more powerful than uttering those words. In that moment, I chose to live. I chose not to try to die again.
We are all recovering from something. We are all choosing, each day, to not live in the graveyard of yesterday, but to shake ourselves loose and breathe again. We are all echoing the song of Lazarus, whose life wasn't finished when his heart stopped beating.
All of life is a prayer. Every word we speak and everything we do is an act of worship. A declaration of who we are, how we value our own life, and what we want to give to the rest of creation.
Everything is prayer. #graceismessy #ProgressiveChristian #agnostic via @iamsteveaustin
Each moment I spend with my son, listening to him, pouring my hard earned wisdom into him, laughing with him, teaching him - it's all prayer. I am praying that he will live a better childhood than me. Prayers that he will feel safe and happy, healthy and whole, loved and at peace.
When I hold my little girl close and whisper, "You are so beautiful. I love you to the moon and back,", I am praying, "God, let her know her value. Let her know that her worth is found in who she is. Let her rest in the knowledge that her father accepts, respects, and cherishes her, exactly as she is."
When I push the kitchen utensils aside, grab my wife gently by the wrists, and spin her toward me, looking her in the eyes as I wrap her in a warm embrace, I am praying to the Almighty that her heart will never feel the need to wander.
When I tell her, "I love this life we are creating," I am praying. And when I wash the dishes or take out the trash or bring her the first cup of coffee in the morning, those are all acts of worship and devotion. Because I am in love with the divine beauty that inhabits her soul. My wife is a deep well, and in her eyes, I have met God.
So maybe you don't know the right words. Maybe you haven't mastered the language. But everything we do is prayer. When we treat others with kindness and dignity, our souls are singing to God.
When you secretly pay your neighbor's power bill, you are offering a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus.
When you gather on a Sunday afternoon to feed the homeless, your soul is crying, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty."
When you sit through an all-day dance recital or sweat in the noonday sun all weekend at a baseball tournament, you are praying that your children would know just how priceless they are to you.
So do I think prayer works? Yes, but not in the way I was raised to believe.
When we are actively involved in the lives of those around us - doing what we can to better our world - we are praying. So in a sense, everything is prayer.
I stopped praying months ago. Here's what happened. #graceismessy via @iamsteveaustin
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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