Sunday, August 26, 2012

Three Prayers - Part 1

"It doesn't matter how you pray - with your head bowed in silence, or crying out in grief, or dancing.  Churches are good for prayer, but so are garages and cars and mountains and showers and dance floors." - Anne Lamott, Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith

I don't remember the first Anne Lamott book I read. It might have been Operating Instructions because I had two sons to raise, it might have been Bird by Bird because I had hopes and dreams of becoming a writer or it might have been Traveling Mercies because I wanted to laugh and cry about life.  I have been a fan for many years.  Anne is from the Bay Area like I am and she found God through recovery like I did.  But the main reason I love her is because she is a great writer who isn't afraid to share the most intimate fears, hopes and doubts in her life while making me feel I'm not alone and how good it feels to be alive.

She has long wrote that there are only two prayers someone needs - help and thank you.  Last month she announced her new book, coming out in November, titled Help. Thanks. Wow.  She has added another essential prayer.  I look forward to reading the book but I don't want to wait until November to share some perspective on the practical wisdom of these prayers and practices for calltrepreneurs everywhere.  Tomorrow I will to add my personal experiences through the lens of the pilgrimage I've been on the last few months.

Help  - For many of us this is the first prayer we ever learned.  Even if we didn't really believe in any type of God.  Get me a good grade.  Let me have that special toy.  How about a job, or extra money, or a mate?  Asking for help from God, from the Universe, from life, from people is an essential practice of anyone who wishes to be a calltrepreneur.   One of the mythologies of the American way of life is that entrepreneurs, ministers - anyone - makes it on their own.  Life is hard.  So is business and ministry.  Show me someone who has a cadre of friends, advisors, therapists, mentors and coaches and I'll show you someone who has a better than average chance at being successful in their life; someone who is making a difference.  Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness it is a sign of humility, it a trait that people admire, especially in their leaders.

Thanks - Gratitude is good for the spirit, the soul and our health.  And lots more.  This article in the Wall Street Journal tells it like it is:  "  Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those that do not, according to studies over the last decade.  They're also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics.  They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and greater resistance to viral infections." How often do you say thank you?  Not only for the blessings and  beauty of this world but for the little things that others do to make a difference to you and others.  Long, long ago I had a boss who said thank you every night when I left the job.  It made a difference.  Life is hard.  So is business and ministry.  But imagine how hard it would be without the kindness and gifts of everyone who we come into contact with.  

Wow - I look forward to Anne Lamott's perspective on this prayer but for me it means never forgetting the awesomeness, the beauty, the surprises, the take your breath away moments that are part of life.  They are everywhere we look  - IF we remember to look.  They happen during a worship service when the congregations sings so beautifully tears come to your eyes.  They happen watching a kitten purring in a lap or a dog napping by the fire.  They happen in playgrounds when children are laughing and playing a game.  They happen when strangers help strangers during a crisis.  They happen in companies when teams of people create something they never could have done alone.

These three prayers, these three practices have the potential to change our lives.  If we pay attention every day and look.  Where and from whom can we ask for help?  How often can we say thank you to someone or for something that we had nothing to do with?  When can we step back from our life, open our mouths, and say wow?  The truth is we could do all three almost every minute of the day.  On our knees or on a mountain, in our backyard or in the middle of a crowd of people, when we wake or when we go to bed, anytime, anywhere, let us pray.

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