FAITH5 – Praying With Your Family
Wednesdays in Lent we are exploring thefaith practice called FAITH5 – a nightly routine in which families gather to SHARE highs and lows, READ scripture, TALK about how scripture informs their lives, PRAY for one another, and BLESS each other.
"Praying With Your Famiy" –
a Lenten message by Schoan Nahre
When I volunteer for things like this I forget that the person in charge probably already has a direction they want things to go. I can’t just fly by the seat of my pants sharing whatever fun stories pop in my head.
At the initial meeting Pastor Aaron shared the topic. He had already been able to put his readings into practice gathering his family at the end of the day to share highs and lows and to pray with each other and for each other. Wonderful! I can see how this could have benefits for a lifetime.
How I’m made, even before he finishes his explanation I’m already thinking of what I’m going to talk about. And immediately realizing I’m not prepared. I may not be the right person for this project. I don’t have small kids. My children no longer live at home.
A day or two later I saw my sister who lives in Chicago. Her religious experiences are far more vast than mine working for campus ministries for several years, then at the ELCA headquarters for 15 years and World Hunger.
I shared with her what I had gotten myself into. Adding to the challenge the impressive people I had to follow.
I’m just shaking my head considering the fact I’m in too deep. My sister’s advice? With a chuckle only a sibling can produce (that means she’s getting a little joy in my anguish) says to me, ‘Well, you’ve got to provide the message for the common man’.
So, with that deep, insightful advice – here I go!
To my relief there is more to this 5-step program beyond me needing to adopt more children so that we can share our highs and lows each night. Step 4 is about prayer. And in that chapter it discusses meditation and talking to God.
As many of you know Pastor Mark has a renewed enthusiasm for meditation these last few years. He’s shared advice and scripture and opportunities in the evenings to join him. I was super excited because I always thought I could benefit from meditation but each time I tried – in my mind – I failed. I could put the time aside and find a quiet space. But I couldn’t get my mind to stop cookin’. It wasn’t necessarily productive thought, but it was busy up there and messing with my chance to get refreshed and energized by meditation.
In one of the meditation inspirations from Pastor it mentions you pretty much get credit for just trying. The fact I took time out and provided myself a quiet space was a form of meditation.
I replied to his e-mail explaining how this information was such a relief that I wasn’t a complete failure at this meditation thing and then I went on and on how my mind won’t stop thinking- usually about silly things. Blah Blah Blah. (Kind of defusing the positive in his message.)
He replied to my e-mail… (side note - you know how people have concerns about e-mail and texting because there is no chance to read a person’s facial expression, body language or hear their tone to know if they are happy or sad or sarcastic?) I got his replied and I laugh out loud because of what I was picturing.
This is what I pictured when reading it. A kindergarten teacher comforting a small child who fell down and didn’t get hurt but still found the experience scary.
Pastor Mark replied to my e-mail with this one sentence: "Schoan, that was the point."
It made me chuckle. How I sometimes I overthink things. And make them more difficult than they need to be.
The book for this Lenten sermon series shared another point-of-view for meditation that also excited me. It said “Meditation doesn’t have to be any scarier or more mystical than listening to a wise and loving friend.”
SCORE! I’ve been doing that for decades. I’m blessed with some of the coolest friends on the planet and there is this one who is on the same page as me in the quest to successfully meditate. We help each other mark things off our Bucket List.
One friend has such a thirst for religious comfort and guidance that if she is not getting it with normal avenues she will seek new ideas. For example she visited Gethsemane Monastery for three days of prayer and meditation. No TV. No Internet. No cell phone. Just you alone with your thoughts.
I asked her to describe it. She didn’t read this book but she shows a lot of similarities.
I want to read it to you verbatim because it’s so good.
That time was…..
….one of letting go of the noise, and making myself more available to the Holy Spirit
….immersion into silence opened up space in my head and heart to hear my own concerns/worries/questions instead of always burying them in busy-ness and worldly distractions
….once I heard those things inside me, the emotions around those things also came to the surface
….then, when all of that surfaced, it’s like then, through the quiet and through prayer, the Holy Spirit started to ‘deliver’ insights and gifts to me of understanding and healing. Sometimes it was just a peaceful feeling…other times, it was actual new ways of looking at things, understanding things….sometimes ideas for actions to take, etc.
Overall, the experience was of having rested from noise and distraction and busy-ness and spending time with the One I love…remembering His love for me and renewing and building our relationship. As they say, loving relationships require attention and listening as well as speaking.
The point is - have the conversation with God. In any form you chose. There is no right or wrong way to do it.
One of the fun examples of prayer is my husband and his Haiti trip a few years ago. I put it in both categories of highs and lows because at the time he might consider it a low point but the fact he shared the experience I consider a high point. Anybody who goes on the trip with the thought it’s all about the Haitians has a big treat ahead. Each person returns with a bigger heart for compassion and better appreciation of how good we have it.
My husband doesn’t work out but he’s on his feet all day and stays active so he thought he was prepared for his week in Haiti. He was wrong. Really wrong. You might have heard it’s a bit hilly there. Some might call the hills, mountains.
One day the terrain was kicking his butt and he says in an old fashioned Lutheran way (by that I mean he thought it really loudly) “Jesus, if you want me to get to the top of this hill I’m going to need your help”. This was out of character for Kurt and I think it was wonderful!
Step 4 in this series is about prayer – highs and lows. It might take a little effort to put the time aside and to give it serious thought to come up with highs and lows. But believe me, you will reap the benefits tenfold.
And I joke about my sister. But she is an excellent example of a person who prays for other’s highs and low. I can tell you without officially knowing – that last night and again today she prayed for me with her big heart hoping things went well for me tonight.