Steps in prayer


26 Apr 2016
Lately I pray from my Grandmother’s morning and evening prayer book. One of the lines from my favourite prayer is for a quiet mind and a clean heart. I kneel on a little green elephant cushion (elephants were my Grandma’s favourite animal) with a posture of a straight back and a bowed head, a bit like the posture you adopt in the writing process. First I pray from the heart and then I read a prayer from the book.
Prayer is new to me, and the only prayer I ever truly knew by heart was the Lord’s Prayer, and in the last year the Serenity Prayer.
First I give thanks to God. This comes from my gratitude list, which I write daily with different coloured pencils. It could be for the smallest thing, like water out of my tap, or for larger things, like my Aunt’s cancer treatment working.
They say prayer is about talking to God and meditation is about listening for God’s answers. At home I have two leather-bound gold leaf bibles, one a King James given to me by an indigenous man, the other my great grandfather’s which is over 100 years old, and which I need a magnifying glass to read.
God’s words, Jesus’ words in red, bring me great comfort. A God that cares and loves me, that forgives my mistakes when they flare up like the strike of a match.
I don’t go to church often, but last week I was in St Paul’s Cathedral, and the roof was like a wooden boat and I was floating underneath it. I knelt on the cool mosaic marble floor and I prayed to be cured of my addiction.
The saints were made of coloured glass and sunlight. I didn’t even have the money for a honey coloured candle but I lit one anyway. Someone had written in the book ‘everything will be alright if you look for the light.’
Coming out from the quiet of the church to the loud city streets was disconcerting. Blankets left on the street, the homeless like wounded seagulls, drunks and addicts hit by lightning, the smoky smell of roasting nuts, walking the streets was like being bumped around inside a pinball machine.
I carry my prayers in my heart, like strawberries dipped in chocolate. We’re all like worn out teddy bears, carrying our childhoods around. Only God cares, when we see with our eyes that were once blind, and God is our white Labrador. With God, there’s candlewax in my ears, there’s sleep in my eyes.
My first prayer was my first breath of air.
Peta Edmonds is a writer and volunteer at Jesuit Communications
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