My initial post of 2018 is about the very personal topic of prayer. It is personal because prayer of every kind is relational. Prayer is about one’s relationship with the three Persons, our Trinitarian God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
My first memory of prayer occurred when I was a child in kindergarten at the local Public School. My teacher Miss Kershky asked the class, “Who knows a prayer?” I could not raise my hand because I wasn’t sure I knew a prayer. This dilemma disturbed me quite a bit, because I liked being able to answer the teacher’s questions. One boy, Billy, knew a prayer and Mrs. Kershky asked him to say the pray aloud. It was the Hail Mary. I was impressed, as well as a tad envious.
Later that day when I returned home from school, I confronted my mother and dad and rather heatedly asked, “Why don’t I know a prayer? Why didn’t you teach me a prayer?” I have no recollection of their response, except I feel they were surprised.
In general, after that first encounter with my parents about prayer, my father took the time each evening between our bath time and bedtime to pray with us; that is, with my younger brother John and sister Joan, and me. One-by-one we gathered with Dad in the living room after Mother bathed and pajamaed us. There Dad read a chapter from a book like The Adventures of Pinocchio. Then followed a little song fest that included secular ditties and religious hymns. We then walked to our shared bedroom where Dad sat and talked with us about our day and led us in prayer. This was also a time to teach us new prayers, and for us to ask questions about God.
Besides vocal prayers, I absorbed at least the notion of silent or mental prayer by watching my dad praying the rosary. In the living room of our home, when he returned from work, he often lay on the maroon davenport as he silently prayed the rosary, his eyes closed. I sometimes sat on the floor and silently observed him move the rosary little black beads slowly through his fingers. Although I knew he was somehow talking to God, I didn’t understand how God could hear his prayer because there was no vocalizing and his lips didn’t move. Even so, I sensed this was a special moment. Much later I learned that God knows everything, even our unspoken thoughts and desires.
I was about nine years of age, when I began to believe and understand that there is a kind of power connected with praying to God. By this time I had been catechized for a few years and was learning prayers more formally. We children were actually required to memorize the prayers in our catechism book, and my dad helped me with that.
I was ill, probably with the flu, and I could not keep food down. I felt terrible and wanted nothing more than to be well. I wondered if I said all the prayers in my catechism would God take away this sickness. So I grabbed the little book from its place atop my dresser and found the prayer section. It contained so many prayers! Determinedly I started praying them. Some I knew, but others were very challenging. I persevered, sounding out the hard words as best I could. Then, I waited. After I finished I didn’t vomit anymore and I began to feel better and better. I was sure that God had heard my prayers and that He took away my sickness.
Since my childhood prayer has been integral in my life. I am a person who prays. I think the world needs people who pray and I am happy to be one of them.
Are you a person who prays? When did you first pray? Do you remember? How has your prayer life developed? If you like, share your experiences in the comment section. God bless you and have a blessed New Year!