I talk about prayer a lot in various programs that I offer. There are many ways to pray and people have many different understandings of what prayer is.
This excerpt from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Man’s Question for God came across my desk the other day. It speaks of what it means to pray in a very simple way:
To pray is to take notice of the wonder, to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all beings, the divine margin in all attainments. Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living. It is all we can offer in return for the mystery by which we live….
I love the sense of prayer as our response, prayer that which we offer in return for the mystery by which we live.
Heshcel’s words reminded me of one of May Oliver’s poems, Praying:
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Pay attention. Take notice. And then respond with what is in your heart.