Prayer is a mystery, beyond my comprehension, but that does not keep me from communing with God, my creator.
Growing up in a Catholic family, my parents introduced me to prayer. At a very early age I was taught to kneel by my bedside before crawling into bed at night. I’d bow my head and fold my hands and repeat after my dad, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” Though I did not comprehend the meaning of those words, I did understand that somehow, God heard my prayers.
I was also taught that another occasion for prayer was before every meal. We’d fold our hands, and take a solemn posture with bowed heads and the whole family, in unison said grace,
“Bless us, Oh Lord, in these Thy gifts, from which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.” This pause for prayer before eating taught me to give thanks and to be grateful for the food Mom prepared, even if I did not like creamed tuna on toast.
During lent, we said a loop or two of the rosary every night before going to bed. There was a small shrine of Mary on the stair landing and we knelt before her while repeating “Hail Marys” in unity. Saying the rosary or even a part of it seemed to take a long time. Yet, this showed me that some seasons of prayer last longer than others.
Then my dad ended his life just before I turned fourteen and my faith in prayer came to an abrupt halt. His death made no sense and by all appearances, I surmised that his devotion to God had made no difference either.
But, I was wrong. Since then, I’ve grown up a bit and resumed my belief in God and prayer, albeit a little different from that of my youth.
In summary, I’ve come to believe that although we cannot fully understand with our finite minds the length, breadth and height of God’s love for us, we have the capacity to believe in it. Also, I’ve come to realize that although my prayers and supplications do not necessarily bring about instant miracles, prayer does change my perspective about my circumstances. And finally, my dad’s faith in God did make a difference. Imperfect as it was, it left its mark on me.
Why bother praying? Prayer changes everything a little bit. Keep praying and those changes over time, might take hold.