In this episode, Spencer shares his personal journey to and understanding of prayer.
- I did not grow up with a tradition of prayer.
- My idea of prayer as a young person: “God, please give me a pony.”
- It didn’t work!
- I did not grow up with an understanding of or belief in God.
- So prayer is meaningless, right?
- The 12 steps challenged me to find meaning in these concepts: God and Prayer.
- What is prayer? How do we pray? Why do we pray?
- Serenity prayer — helped me to get through difficult moments/hours/days.
- My first experience of non “pony” prayer.
- I say “God, grant me the serenity…”
- The atheist version: “Please grant me the serenity…”
- Going beyond the serenity prayer…
- 3rd & 7th step prayers from AA big book.
- “God, I offer myself to Thee—to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!”
- “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.”
- Another version of 3rd step prayer: “God, help me remove the blinders of self-will. Help me see what is true. Teach me so that I can be of service. Free me from fear, from hate, from greed, from discontent so that I may contribute myself to your work. Allow me to see what you would have me do and grant me the strength to follow through.”
- Anne Lamott suggests that there are 3 “essential” prayers: Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
- The serenity prayer is a “Help” prayer, as are the 3rd and 7th step prayers.
- When I express gratitude, whether to God or the universe, I am praying “Thanks”.
- a prayer of gratitude, sung this morning at church
- We give thanks for this precious day / for all gathered here and those far away / for this time we share with love and care / Oh, we give thanks for this precious day.
- A “Wow!” prayer: e.e. cummings, “i thank You God for most this amazing day“
- Another Wow! prayer: Hallelujah Chorus, which we sang together after the service this morning.
- A fourth kind of prayer, which I might call “Be well”. Every Sunday, we sing our children to their classes with this: Go now in peace / Go now in peace / May the spirit of love surround you everywhere / everywhere you go.
- Why do I pray?
- “Prayer doesn’t change the world, prayer changes me.”
- A prayer that I say every morning (when I remember): “Lord, help me to hold myself and others to a standard of grace, rather than perfection.” Why? Because it addresses (at least) two of my character defects: perfectionism and my expectation that others will do things my way. (Thus: part of my seventh step practice.)
- It reminds me that others are also children of God, that they have inherent worth and deserve respect, and that I am not in control.
- Prayer reminds me that I am not alone and that I need not solve all my problems by myself.
- Prayer gives me a way to focus on that which is important to me.
- Prayer gives me a way to express my hopes and fears.
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Music from the show
Pink Floyd: Is there Anybody out There?
Handel: the Hallelujah Chorus
e e cummings: i thank you god for most this amazing day
Several members talked about this book: The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts