Last night, we held the first of 3 Advent contemplative prayer times at our church. For an hour each week, we will stop. We will be still (if not in our body, at least our soul). We will look for ways to connect with the Divine in new and ancient practices. There is a station centered around Anglican prayer beads. There is a station inviting us into the practice of the labyrinth. There is also an art installation that helps us navigate the often challenging waters of practicing prayer.
The art is created by Scott Erickson. His work challenges and moves me. The opening statement of the collection held my attention and prayer for the entire time last night. But it was one of the closing lines that my heart played on repeat. “The essence of prayer is the Love of God.” That is just good. I clearly over complicate prayer. I have too many rules. I have expectations and qualifications. Yet I miss out because it is not about the checklist, it is all about love. I think that is where our world misses the mark most often.
During our prayer time, we were each invited to explore prayer in a way that was helpful for us. There were families with children as young as 7 participating. As we closed the evening, our pastor asked us to reflect on the experience. I enjoyed being still. I actually wanted it to last longer. I felt nudging to move and act. But what I really needed to hear was the voice of the youngest in the room. As the first to speak up during reflection time, my friend said, “I saw God in the fire of the candle. Because, God is the light of the world.”
Mic drop, Noah. Mic drop.