If I wanted to make a resolution (and I do, but they don't usually keep the whole year), I would say: “discipline in prayer.” So much of my spiritual life is, like the rest of my life, filled with chaos and unpredictability. Toddlers have this affect on people, I'm told. I tend to pray in a haphazard way, and it isn't very satisfying. Prayer is one of the last things I remember as I'm trying to shut down my brain for sleep: “Oh crap. I forgot to pray. Umm…. remember people with cancer… so-and-so is going through a rough time, look after her…. for people who are suffering…” This simply isn't working for me. I will have to carve out some time, and this will take discipline. Not discipline in the sense of getting punished, but rather discipline in the sense of developing a good habit through repetition and self control.
Furthermore, I have long thought the purpose of prayer is universal: if you pray for one person's cancer to be relieved, do you not pray for all who have cancer? What kind of person would acknowledge and assuage the suffering of some, but not all? (Not a compassionate one, I think.) We all live and breathe: we all suffer, or have suffered and are trying to get over it, or through it, or out of it. We are all connected by our common humanity. This universal aspect of prayer is why I like Prayer Flags: you say a prayer for all sentient beings — and hang them — and the wind does the heavy lifting from there.
So much of prayer is not knowing, but wanting the best. This is so difficult for controlling types like me (I want the outcome now!). I think if I have a more deliberate time and practice for prayer, it will be like the Prayer Flags: my hopes and wishes and good intentions will go out into the universe, and God will take over from there.
Anna Marie Martin has been a Spokanite since December 2006, when she moved here just in time to experience some of the worst snowstorms in recent history. She dislikes snow (hate is a really strong word). She grew up in Nebraska, and therefore has no need to be exposed to neither more snow nor more football. Yet, each of these happen every fall and winter, she says.
I just went outside and put up prayer flags for my dad. They’ve been hanging up in my living room – which does no good really. Today marks one month since he’s passed and I thought it was the perfect occassion to let the wind carry prayers for him.