Dear Hyde Park Family,
One of my favorite social activities is to play card games. Years ago, in seminary, my friends and I would play every Thursday night after classes were finished. Our group included a couple who had been married a long time. We would often play “trick-taking” games like Spades and Euchre, where the partners would silently work together to win enough tricks in a given hand.
That couple beat us every time. And after a while, we discovered their secret. They had been married long enough to not need words to communicate.
Think about it. If you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a long time, remember what it was like when you were first getting to know each other. You spoke words all the time. You shared what you were feeling and what you wanted, with precise language. You planned together, spoke together, learned about each other, dreamed together.
But there often comes a point when your relationship evolves, even matures, and you start communicating in a different way, and often in a non-verbal way. You learn to recognize their presence even when you don’t see them. You read their body language. You detect nuances in their face. You can tell when something is going on, without even hearing them speak.
And that’s exactly happened when we played this couple at cards. They would pick up their cards, and without intention, one would flinch their nose. Or purse their lips. Or furrow their brow.
I don’t know exactly what they were doing, but they killed us every time.
PRAYER AS ATTENTIVENESS
Sometimes I think about them when I think about prayer. Just as with any person, our relationship with God can change over time. Some picture God with a face and a human form, located in a certain place. Some people come to experience God in a different way, as present in all things, embedded in every moment, as close as your own breath.
And eventually, we might even come to the conclusion that praying with words is sometimes not even all that necessary. We can come to see that prayer is not as much about the words that we say, but the attentiveness of our hearts, the heightened awareness of God’s presence, the breathing in and out of God’s Spirit that reminds us of who we are in God.
It could then mean that every breath could become a prayer to God. Every chew of food, every gasp of delight, every splash of water in bathing, can become a moment of prayer, and delight, and joy, as we learn to sense the presence of God all around us.
Prayer can become a whole-life response to God’s grace.
I don’t think I’ll ever entirely let go of using words when I pray. But even still, there’s a lot that I can learn about raising my attentiveness to God’s Spirit, and I suppose you can, too. That’s one reason why this Sunday is so important.
THIS SUNDAY: PRAYING WITH CONFIDENCE AND CONVICTION
We conclude our important “Get a GRIP” worship series on our personal spiritual practices this Sunday with a sermon on prayer. Along with Giving with joy and generosity, Reading Scripture without fear and frustration, and Inviting Others to Jesus in a way that is natural and not intimidating, we will end with a worship experience devoted to Prayer.
I hope you will join us, either live or online, open to learning how the Spirit can reinvigorate your prayer life, so that you can pray with confidence and conviction, and a renewed sense of how your prayers to God really matter. We will experience different ways to pray that you can practice throughout the week, which will help you grow in your relationship with God. This would be a great service to invite a friend to attend, particularly if they have ever had questions about prayer.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist