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How to pray

15 September 2009

There are some that find prayer a little uneasy. To place your hope in something that is intangible, invisible and for non-believers, non-existant, to pray, or to pray effectively, becomes quite a challenge. Chris Witts described prayer as building a personal relationship with a God. Does this need to be ritualised or even formalised? How does God want to be addressed? I think that a sincere reverence often transforms to an uncomfortable even impersonal situation.

Do we ever find ourselves talking to ourselves? Making snide remarks, grumblings or giggles? Perhaps this should be the way we pray. These are our true emotions that we share with ourself, so why not to a God that supposedly loves us for who we are. Be open to share your inner thoughts with God. You might actually find yourself somewhere in mix of it all.

Hopefully the reflection below will give some comfort for those who feel their prayer is lost…

The Chair

Emily asked her local pastor, Father Michael, to come and anoint and pray with her father, Andy. When the Pastor arrived, he found Andy lying in bed with his head popped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The priest assumed that the old man was informed of his visit. “I guess you were expecting me,” the priest said.

“No, who are you?” asked the bedridden man. “Oh yeah, the chair. Would you mind closing the door?” Puzzled, the pastor shut the door.

“I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” Andy said. “But all my life I have never known how to pray. At Church, I sed to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head.”

“I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” Andy continued, “until one day, about four years ago, when my best friend Dave said to me, ‘Andy, prayer is as simple as having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith, see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised he would be with us always. Then just speak to him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me now.”

“So, I tried it and liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours everyday. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”

Father Michael was deeply moved by the story and encouraged Andy to continue on the journey. Then he anointed him and prayed with him and returned to the Church.

Two nights after Father Michael’s visit with Andy, Emily called him to say her father had died that afternoon. “Did he seem to die in peace?” Fr Michael asked.

“Yes,” Emily replied, “when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange – in fact, beyond strange. It was kind of wierd. Dad was no longer in bed, but sitting on the floor with his head restong on the seat of the chair”

By Joseph F. Sica

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