what i mean when i say – pray

I have had some people ask me to                               
pray for them recently. I’ve told some other people that I am praying for them. I realized that I probably better tell you what I am doing when I agree or offer to pray. After all, it could be dangerous.

————–

Picture a conversation between a dad and a child, in kitchen of the house, early in the morning. The dad has been up for a long time and is on his second cup of coffee, the child not as long, but long enough to be sitting at the table with a glass of milk.

This is not a dysfunctional relationship, but a dad and a child who get along, a dad that actually shows up and cares and provides and loves.  And the child? A child that is probably 6 or 7, old enough to converse and to acknowledge the people around, young enough to get tired and pouty, young enough to forget, young enough to think that there are no boundaries and then to discover that there are, young enough to not have skills to do much that is beautiful or productive…unless you are looking through a loving dad’s eyes.

See the picture? Now picture a friend of that child sitting on the back step, crying in the early morning mist. Something is lost, someone is hurt, something isn’t right.

The child and dad look out. The child waits for the dad to do something, the dad is watching the child. The child slips down from the table and walks to the sliding glass door.

“Come in.”

But the friend just shakes her head.

The child walks out and sits down next to the friend, just sitting, listening.

“You can come in and talk to my dad. He can do anything.”

“I can’t. He doesn’t know me. He doesn’t care anyway.”

“Yes, he does. But I know. He doesn’t look very friendly at first. I’ll be right back.”

The child walks back into the house.

“Dad? What can I do? What can you do?”

The child walks back out and sits next to the friend. He gives her a hug.

“That’s from my dad.”

He hands her a glass of milk.

“That’s from my dad, too. He knew you liked chocolate in it.”

He sits quietly for a minute.

“My dad said you can sit here as long as you need to. He said I can sit here with you.”

—————

That’s what I’m doing. I hope you don’t mind.

——-

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44 responses to “what i mean when i say – pray

  1. Wow, that’s deep, Jon. Great writing that means a lot…

  2. Jon,
    I love this. May I borrow this example to share with pals? Big smiles here…
    -Kait

  3. Thanks bryan, for stopping by.

    Kait, feel free. I’m just taking dictation anyway.

  4. Some of us may be talking to your dad on our own, but just want some company on the back step, too. In fact, I may be one of those people.

  5. You are a blessing to me!

    It’s a pleasure to pray for you too…

  6. I don’t think I’ve ever cried reading a blog post before. Good one.

  7. Yah. That’s it Jon. Spot on.

  8. A wonderful analogy, Jon. I know a couple of people who really needed that glass of chocolate milk today … and I was glad I whispered their names to you earlier. Thank you for sitting out on the back steps with us.

  9. I’m somehow too moved to cry? But. Same difference. Jon, I drank a lot of that chocolate milk last month. Thank you.

  10. Found your blog through Brogan’s Twitter – chrisbrogan Curse that JnSwanson . His blog post made me cry: http://tinyurl.com/26hnjr That’s a first.

    Wow…thank you! Very powerful, very needed.

  11. Awesome story Jon. That captures prayer for others so well.

  12. What a lovely thing. What a huge, lovely thing.
    I’m sharing this – thank you.

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  14. Whoah. I’ve never heard that aspect of prayer put in words anywhere near as powerful. Thank you… and thanks to Dad for giving those words to you.

  15. wow! amazing! real. Thank you. In this way, I’ll pray for my friends.

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  17. Excellent article! Thanks Chris for sharing it too.

    Brent

  18. I haven’t stopped crying all day. This post? No different.

  19. Empathy, sympathy, caring, consideration, thinking about someone else are all laudable traits and actions. Why muddy it up with the loaded notion of “prayer?”

  20. suzymilleryurtmyopenidcom

    Beautiful.

    Looking forward to sharing it.

    Thank you.

    Suzy Miller

  21. Thanks, all, for your interactions and responses. Yesterday was, for me, one of hearing about much crisis in the lives of people close to me, and I wanted to figure out how to describe what I was doing. Someone mentioned tears: I was crying while writing.

    One of my struggles is with the very word “pray”. In our everyday conversation, we have dozens of words to describe our interaction with each other, some positive (chatting, laughing, teasing), some pretty obnoxious (screaming, shoving). However, then we come to God and we use the word pray. That reduction is part of why we struggle so with the remoteness of God.

    In this parable, for it probably is in that genre, I’m looking at what I mean and what I do when I’m doing what is commonly known as prayer. I’m more than happy to abandon the term. But I’m enjoying the conversations too much not keep coming back to the table, though I enjoy coffee in the early morning far more than milk.

  22. Thank you

  23. Something awoke within me on reading this.

    I didn’t grow up within any religious tradition and have never in my life even entertained the notion of a god “being.” I’ve never been comfortable with labeling myself atheist or agnostic, as both terms imply relationship with the concept of a sentient god — hostility toward it, or ambivalence/uncertainty toward it — and I have no relationship at all with that concept.

    And yet over the last five years I’ve learned to pray, and I recognize in this piece the essence of what I find in the act of prayer. (When I do it, that is — it’s definitely all about making it a practice, the more I pray the more rewarding and anchoring it becomes.)

    For me, prayer is about giving myself permission to feel loved, cared for, accepted — unconditionally. It is about opening myself to feeling *a part of* the living universe, in this very instant of the present, instead of holding myself *apart from* the rest of “what Is.” A Christian friend once took me by the shoulders and looked into my eyes and told me to “remember — you … are… a … precious .. child … of God.” And even though I didn’t hold with the details of the story he told himself about “what Is,” I was lucky enough to hear something wordless and universal underneath his words, and accept it into myself (instead of throwing up a wall inside that says “no I’m not, I’m a tiny speck of detritus swirling in chaos”). And I knew I was experiencing “grace,” in my own way.

    And in such moments, when I allow myself to feel a perfect part of the fabric of the living universe, I usually find that I want to do some things for myself and for others; I hear what my “best self” wants; I learn what’s the next right thing for me to do.

    Thanks for waking up this part of myself. And thanks to Brogan for the pointer.

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  25. This is such a tender description of the praying life. I am so glad that my daughter-in-law read it on a friend’s blog and posted it for me to read. My husband and I have been on the receiving in of many prayers this year and have truly learned He knows and He cares. Thanks for your insight.

  26. funny, i knew that.
    sometimes I’m jealous of your ability to express yourself.
    oh yeah, thanks for the milk.

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  32. Excellent article! Thank you.

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  37. prayerwarrior

    Pray For Mothers & Grain Mothers, & Single Mothers & Grain Mom. Pray God Fix Women’s Heart. The One’s who do not know Jesus as There Families Will get Saved. In The name of Jesus Christ
    Pray for Anger People In the Name Of Jesus Christ
    Pray For World Homeless Families. & Please Pray For Homeless Women to… In The Name of Jesus Christ & all There health Problem In The Name Of Jesus Christ

    Pray For In The Name Of Jesus Christ

    Prays for President Obama and Wife, & Children’s and his new administration. Your efforts will work powerfully in our nation.
    Attorney General
    —Eric Holder
    Secretary of State
    —Hillary Clinton
    Chief of Staff
    —Rahm Emanuel
    Chair, Council of Economic Advisers
    —Christina Romer
    Policemen’s & Women Police. In The Name Of Jesus Christ

    If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (NIV)

    Pray For Our Youth & Young Adults. In The Name Of Jesus Christ
    A family that prays together stays together.

    Please Pray for Street Bullies In The Name Of Jesus Christ & Pray For Schools
    Pray For family that live Around me. Bless There Home & Work & School. Bless There health to, & The One’s who do not know Jesus As There Saver Salvation will Get Saved In The Blood Of Jesus.

    Prayer of a Mother whose children are no longer at home. In The Name Of Jesus Christ

    I’M RAYING FOR YOU AND OTHER PEOPLE AROUND ME
    Prayer for families is the very foundation that keeps a family unit together. Have you heard the phrase “A family that prays together stays together”? The concept is true – a family that has their focus on praying to the Lord Jesus Christ has a foundation that may be shaken at times, but it will withstand all that comes against them.

    Prayers for Justice and Peace

    Please Pray for Other People Have Heart Problem. & Diabetes, In The Name Of Jesus Christ &, Athesma Problems.
    And the Blind In The Name Of Jesus Christ. Pray For Israel & Jews… Pray For World Homeless Families. & Please Pray For Homeless Women to… In The Name of Jesus Christ & all There health Problem In The Name Of Jesus Christ… Prays for President Obama and Wife, & Children’s and his new administration. Your efforts will work powerfully in our nation.
    Pray For World Homeless Families. & Please Pray For Homeless Women to… In The Name of Jesus Christ & all There health Problem In The Name Of Jesus Christ…
    Hear our prayers, O God, In The name of Jesus Christ I Pray

    I do pray that any of our nation’s leaders who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior would develop a relationship with Him. Pray that those who are believers would grow closer to Him each day. In The Name Of Jesus Christ I Pray. Amen
    Hear our prayers, O God, In The name of Jesus Christ I Pray
    Praying For Every One Around Me
    Pray For Our Enemies

    O God, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    I do pray that any of our nation’s leaders who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior would develop a relationship with Him. Pray that those who are believers would grow closer to Him each day. In The Name Of Jesus Christ I Pray. Amen

  38. Pray For Our Youth & Young Adults.In The Name Of Jesus Christ
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    Please Pray for Street Bullies In The Name Of Jesus Christ & Pray For Schools
    Pray For The Family Live Be side me & Around me. Bless There Home & Work & Shool. Bless There health to, & The One’s who do not know Jesus As There Saver Salvation will Get Saved In The Blood Of Jesus.

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