On Prayer

When my brother, Roland, endured throat cancer and had half his neck cut away, my sister, Cathy, suggested he pray. His response was, “I don’t know how”. My brother, a cowboy, had never been to church. He’s found communion in nature and working with horses. But cancer had thrown him out of his element, and I guess you could say, brought him to his knees.I took my brother some prayers I thought might be helpful, by Thomas Murton and such, tucked into the cover of a Bible, along with an afghan made by our Prayer Sisters here at Transfiguration. But the idea of prayer did not come up. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. So, I left it there wondering how to relate how I pray and asking myself what others had done to connect with Our Father.  I did put a bookmark into the page where we find the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11: 2-4 for him to find should he crack open the Good Book.

God is waiting. God is listening. Just as soon as we get off our high horse. I’m pretty sure God humiliates us on purpose and strips us bare to bring us to a state of receptivity.   He loves us and seemingly allows crushing experiences to happen as a tool to humble us, to a place where we are empty, naked and out of pride.

I hear over and over, “there’s no wrong way to pray.” I mean, you have to start somewhere. Bring your baggage. Hell-o -here I am full of remorse, guilt, grief, disappointment, and I’m  tired. Show me the way---now you’ve opened the door. Dig deep, find your feelings. Be honest.

Teresa of Avila has some ideas on bringing the living Waters promised to us:


  • First you dig a well -get deep inside and haul that water up bucket by bucket to the light. Shine some light on all that was hid
  • Then you can start an irrigation system to spread it around to where it is needed. You have to dig some more, trenches that lead somewhere.  You’ll see some progress. Things are growing. You are growing
  • Haul your cross up that hill you’ve so admired, slogging, aching till you see the fountain gushing forth, like a gift. You’ve been given Grace and it’s forthcoming. your faith is coming back to you. God has faith in you
  • Then it begins to rain. It comes freely. God’s love is all around. All he asks is “Love your neighbor, as I have loved you”


And reach out. Ask for guidance. Prayer is a relationship which starts in conversation and develops over time, with some initial effort on our part until we recognize a Presence. We pray with people for the experience of relationship. We are one body

There is an Episcopal church just down the hill from where Roland lives. He asked me if it was as neat on the inside as it looks on the outside. I said, “Neater. “There are  people inside”. I can now suggest to him that he walk down and enter the doors. The people will show him what to do next. He can read the prayers along with the others. They are very welcoming. Then he can go home and take his horse for a ride, with God at his side


Dana Wittmann


Last modified on Tuesday, 02 June 2020 18:42

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