I often hear people comment that they find it difficult to pray. When I ask what they mean by difficulty with prayer they speak about an inability to concentrate and frequent distractions. Others might say that have difficulty in finding time to pray. Because these people know that prayer is essential they can feel at a distance from God, and may carry a burden of feeling that they are not praying as much as they should be.
The problem here is not with these people who clearly have a desire to pray, but with teaching that has reduced prayer to a human activity, something that we do for God. Instead the real activity of prayer is the work of God, who is holding us in loving embrace in every moment.
If you are not sure about this, let me prove this to you.
Take a moment, right now, to find your pulse. The easiest places are perhaps your wrist or neck. Now stop reading this, and for a few moments just feel the beat of your pulse…
…OK, hopefully you have found a pulse. Last week I did this exercise with a group of people on our vacation. Once they had found the pulse I invited them to be completely still and to do what I was about to invite them to do…I asked them to, without moving, stop their pulse. A couple of people said “but we can’t!” “Why not?” I asked. “Because I am not doing this…”
They understood the point, and some were even moved to tears realising that this most fundamental reality of life, the heartbeat, is a gift from the one who loves me more than I could ask or imagine. This is not simply the involuntary movement of a muscle. In a heartbeat God has created me, and in every heartbeat God is holding me in loving embrace.
You might like to use this as a way of praying, perhaps first thing in the morning or as you go to sleep at night. Maybe the minutes of waiting at the red light give an opportunity simply to pray by finding your pulse, and knowing that you are never alone.
In these heartbeat-moments I can truly feel the personal intimate presence and action of God in my life.