You are here to kneel.

A few years ago my daughter and I embarked on a challenge to say meaningful prayers both morning and evening. What I found most humbling about this experience (which at first seemed so basic and de rigeur  there could almost BE no challenge) was that as soon as I put my mind to it, committing and focusing on daily morning and evening prayers, I felt the adversary launch a deliberate attack. I found things getting in the way. I found myself pressed for time, running late. And as much as I hate to admit it, I occasionally found myself not wanting to pray, looking for an excuse or a way out...which is strange. I have always loved prayer, clung to prayer, trusted in prayer. Prayer is the most consistent habit of my spiritual life.

The good news is I fought back, largely because of my commitment to do this and stick to it, because I said I would. (There's probably a lesson in that sentence alone...something about the power of promises, perhaps?) 

One thing that helped me was a thought from my blogger friend Jessica Stock a couple of years ago. She talked about all of the times as a mother she finds herself on her knees, and decided to make each one an opportunity for prayer. So I did exactly that. Not only did I pray morning and night, I also prayed each time I scrubbed a floor, searched for a lost shoe, etc. 

The best thing that came out of this for me was that I pulled out of whatever funk I was in, felt reconnected to God, and conquered the opposition. In the end, I found that I was back where I'd been before, with my desire to pray renewed, because I wanted to talk with my Heavenly Father and be closer to him. I learned that having made a commitment helped me through a dry spell I never could have anticipated. I came away both humbler and stronger.

When I was in college, I took a break from art school and spent a summer at Cambridge University studying English literature. One of the life-changing discoveries I made there (and there were many!) was T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. During that same semester we were touring houses and parishes of the English countryside, and one day touring a parish I stumbled onto this dark prayer alcove off one of the tiny chapels. There was nothing in the room but a small prayer bench under a leaded-glass window. As I stepped into the alcove, I noticed a stream of light pouring through the window, flooding the bench with sunlight, like rays of heaven, and thought of this quote from the Four Quartets:

 

    You are not here to verify,

    Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity

    Or carry report. You are here to kneel

    Where prayer has been valid. 

 

So whenever I find myself in a quiet chapel (of any faith or denomination) I remember that I am first and foremost in a sacred space, and try to take time to kneel. Kneeling invites light. I want more light in my life. I try to see every task that brings me to my knees (talking to a child, wiping up a spill on the floor, searching for a lost key), in addition to more formal prayers, as an opportunity to kneel...where prayer has been valid.

***

For related content on this topic, check out this article I wrote on prayer: http://familyshare.com/faith/does-prayer-work
And my favorite of our early shows on seeking greater connnection with the divine: Post-it Notes from God. TLR8: Post-it Notes from God

#livingroomwithjana

#tiesthatbind

 

   Jana Winters Parkin is an artist, writer, teacher, and adjunct art instructor at UVU. She and her husband have 3 kids and 2 dogs, and she spends every day possible rejuvenating her soul in Utah's glorious mountains. She writes at  divergent pathways and exhibits her work at janaparkin.com.

 

 

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