Take Me To Church?
Did you go to church this morning or are you a Saturday Sabbath observer? Worse yet, some would say, are you among the growing number who do not attend a church, synagogue, temple or mosque?
No, this is not a poll and one will not be taken on this topic of attendance at religious institutions. What more interests me is this:
Did you pray today?
The ‘smart’ ones among you will know that this is one of my trick questions. Trick in as much as:
- There is no right or wrong answer
- It really does not matter to me when or how many times you prayed
- Praying and prayers have very different meanings to me than some who profess religious beliefs or even following spiritual practices.
One Day A Week Church
Watched a very funny video on Facebook last night. Some might not find it so but as my attempt is always to find my truth in everything that I see, hear and experience, it was darn funny to me. As I viewed it, the different possible reactions of some came to me, including the fact that there are those so hell-bent on seeing negativity in just about everything. I know that some might find it racist and demeaning to black people. If I thought that was the intention of the producer of the video, maybe I would agree and not talk about it here.
So, before you click on the play button, you are advised that you might consider things about this video: (a) racist (b) sexist, (c) rude and disrespectful or (c) simply not funny. If you are willing to just enjoy the humour but see the depth as well and then relate it to what I am about to offer on “Praying Without Ceasing,” then watch:
There was a time in my life that I merely did as told where it concerned church attendance and the experience of the “white” man in this video was too often mine. Viewing it and through my laughter, I clearly recall attending a Seventh Day Adventist church one hot Saturday in Kingston, Jamaica when I was about 8 or 9 years old. It went on and on and on – just like this – and my stomach gave out a few hours after my attention span totally left the building.
For many years after this experience, I could not eat sweet potatoes as even the mention of it would take me back to that church hall on Waltham Park Road in Kingston, to the toilet facilities where I hugged a bowl for at least an hour vomitting. Sweet potato pudding was served with lunch in the quick break us children was given but returning to the hot, fans only, loud music pounding, drums banging and in-tongue-talking members sanctuary only served to make me retch.
The only prayer I said that day was, “Lord, get me out of here!”
Prayer Is Not A Position or Posture
There is a popular saying that the “best position is on your knees.” It was mentioned in the video above as well, and yes with some amount of sexual suggestiveness. That aside, that was one of the first misconception about praying that had to go from my life. I am sure there will be those reading this who will say that my comment is extreme and that the saying is to be understood metaphorically. Certainly, I would agree with the latter, however, too many have been judged because their “way” of praying does not resemble how the majority prays.
Take this fellow for example – Ginger Fish. Until today, I never heard about him. Looking at his picture, some of you will quickly judge, categorize and label him. Among those labels will be the assumption that he is not a praying man.
Checking out my Facebook news feed, I noticed that my daughter had posted a story written by him of his meeting an homeless man named Jacobi. I was so touched by the story that I visited Fish’s page and read more posts on his encounter with Jacobi. What I was left with was a reminder that every encounter is a holy one and our responses are our prayers.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Pray Without Ceasing Right Where You Are
A few biblical verses are imprinted on my heart, only a few. Apostle Paul’s command on praying is one. That imprint happened late in my journey, sometime in the early 2000’s when my faith started moving away from belief in Christian dogmas.
My understanding of Scripture was evolving and my “search for meaning” began taking me away from the fundamental and literal understanding of The Bible and all religious texts. My prayer life changed with this movement and no longer was I fervent only on a Sunday (or Saturday), in a sanctuary or as prescribed in any text.
Today, I have no need or want to label what my beliefs are neither am I compelled by any fear of “hell and damnation,” to attend a church, synagogue, temple or mosque. Instead, the world is my sanctuary and my living is my prayer.
Any day of the week is a day of prayer in my world, Everything, situation, experience or circumstance is a reason to give thanks for the “blesson.” When things go sideways, prayers for understanding go up. When things go well, prayers of thanksgiving AND humility are offered. If things seem to be in limbo, I pray reminding myself to “be still.”
While the intent of this post is not to convince you to stop praying in your posture-focussed way, neither am I suggesting that you should stop attending whichever religious institution you frequent, my recommendation is that you:
- Pray without ceasing, recognising every encounter, event, and situation as holy,
- Give thanks in all things – whether you name them good or bad.
- Stop labelling and judging others and yourself for their level or lack of religious fervour,
- Never assume that your way, in prayer or lifestyle is better than another’s – we each have our path,
- If you are sitting in a church all day and never pray for anything but to get out, then leave,
Do have a prayerfully blessed rest of the day! Be sure to sign-up to my Subscribers’ list to get daily updates of posts here as well as monthly gifts and offers available only to subscribers.