“You know how to pray.”
Recently, I was given this humbling compliment from someone I admire a lot. It sounds pretty straight forward, but I wondered how they meant it, and I reflected upon it sporadically throughout the day. I have no way of knowing exactly what this person did mean, or where they were coming from when it was said. But while it was a positive comment, it sure got me thinking about what I felt I needed to do to improve the way I prayed. I’ll be honest; I should definitely work on not getting distracted during bedtime prayers, or while praying after receiving the Eucharist, and I really should spend more time with my Bible. But while I mentally chastised myself, I experienced an ‘A-HA!’ moment of my own.
I was being too literal.
Don’t get me wrong here; praying in the literal sense is so very, very important! Say your bedtime prayers, and mean every word. Remember the intentions that you promised your friends you would pray for. Say rosaries with everything you’ve got, and maybe say it in Latin to keep your mind from wandering. Go to Eucharistic adoration, or walk the Stations of the Cross. Read that Bible of yours, every word of it, and highlight verses like there’s no tomorrow! (Pun intended…because each day is a gift, not a promise.)
But your prayer life is so much more than the activities listed above, and I think it’s important to remember that. Your *whole life*, every bit of it, all the choices and emotions, everything you think or say; it’s all a prayer. A life prayer.
It’s all the ups of life; random acts of kindness, serving others in the various communities you belong to, encouraging texts/use of social media, smiles, laughs & the giggles that you caused, spontaneous dance-offs, (Christian) rap battles, giving hugs to the people you care about (as well as the hugs received), and countless other actions that spread Christ’s light and the message of His love, to every one around us.
But your prayer also contains the downs of life; the tears of heartbreak or frustration, the anxiety, the dirty looks you give, the unkind words that fly out of your mouth, or swirl in your head. It’s the jealousy, the regrets, the imperfections; all of the things that you need to let go of and offer up to God’s healing power, so it turns into a prayer of redemption and forgiveness, rather than remaining one of hatred and despair.
The question is, what will make up the majority of your life prayer? How long will it be? Will it be one that honors your Savior, or one that He will be less-than pleased with on your Judgement day?
It’s important. Continue praying literally, but make sure that you keep your life prayer in check too. When you die, you won’t be necessarily be judged by how much Scripture you could quote, because even the devil could spout off verses perfectly. But you will be judged by how you lived your life. So make your life prayer good.