Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple


“Unfit to Pray”

posted by Mark Herringshaw

I’m in no shape to pray.

So I will.

 At the moment I feel anything but spiritual. I’m exhausted, hungry, in need of a shower and buzzing with that vague sense of irritation I often pass off as my “moodiness.”  I’m a far cry from experiencing the “aura of the sacred. “

So, I’ll talk with God.

That’s how prayer usually works for me. Life presses. Things distract. And my days run together like a sequence of random exceptions that too easily become an excuse for me to defer important things. If I wait for the perfect moment to do things perfectly… well, I’ve had very few perfect moments.

Right now for instance. I ducked out a bit between the last paragraph and this one to toss up a simple prayer about one of my children living on the other side of the world who at this very moment is making a very big decision about her next semester in school. She’s too old now for me to direct. And she’s too far away for me to try to “persuade” toward what I think is best. So, I just said a prayer to God, who is not too far away from her and who is able to work inside her decisions without crushing her freedom.

That prayer a moment ago was a clumsy effort, I assure you. Truth be told, I’m editing more carefully the words I’m writing for this “Prayer, Pure and Simple” blog post than I am the secondary concurrent discussion I’m having with God. But that’s the pure simplicity and earthiness of prayer.

I’ll go on now and thank God for another morning, dreary as this one is. I’ll tell God about my concerns for my jobs, my anxiety over pressing crises in Iran and South Korea, and my uncertainty about which of two good options before me to turn down. Maybe once I finish this post I’ll move on for a short conversation about my need for God to blast away that one stubborn flaw in my character that keeps wounding the most important people in my life. That’s one line God has heard a few times!

Because of my busy life I find it best to keep a kind of running dialog with God, an open discussion that wraps around and never really concludes. I speak out things as they come to mind, mostly dull and not particularly profound things… because that’s what comes mostly to my mind – dull and not profound. I just say things as directly as I can, in present tense, simply, and I trust, purely. It’s a learn-as-you-go gig, because learning to talk with God happens the same way we learned to talk as children: practice, practice, practice.

Questions: If you don’t have time to craft God lofty formal address to God, are you comfortable instead firing off a quick text message? What are some of your best short-hand prayers?  Does God ever answer back in a text message?



  • Salcia

    A few days ago, I heard a Catholic podcast that advocated the short and simple prayer, “Jesus, mercy. Mary, help.” It’s a way to pray when you don’t feel able to pray or, to be honest, when you think you’re about to die suddenly. But I’ve taken to using it whenever I feel overanxious, depressed, or upset. It’s very calming, and it seems to improve whatever situation is causing me grief.
    I’ve never gotten an actual text message back, but the help and mercy seem to arrive just the same.

  • Mark Herringshaw

    Salcia,
    Splended example of exactly what I’m talking about! I hope you will stay in our conversation in the days ahead. Actually, the name “Jesus” can be translated from the original language as “God save us!” In other words, just saying this one word, Jesus’ name is in itself a plea pray for help. So glad to hear that you are receiving peace and real tangible help and mercy! Again, keep posting your insights! Thanks.
    Mark

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