An act of love.

She emptied her mind of all thoughts and pictures; she held it empty till the sudden change in it gave her the consciousness of the spreading out of the stronger will within; then she allowed that now unimportant daily mind to bear the image and memory of Nancy into its presence. She did not, in the ordinary sense, “pray for” Nancy; she did not presume to suggest to Omniscience that it would be a thoroughly good thing if It did. She merely held her own thought of Nancy stable in the midst of Omniscience. -Charles Williams, The Greater Trumps

When the prayer requests roll around in their predictability, he silently questions their usefulness. Will this make any difference? Will the cancer disappear now that we’ve mentioned it? -Vinita Hampton Wright, Dwelling Places

“… I simply take him into my heart, and then put him into God’s hand.” -Madeleine L’Engle, A Ring of Endless Light

We got a lot of cards and phone calls and emails after my dad passed away, and so many people expressed that we were in their thoughts and prayers. I can be kind of skeptical about whether my own prayers for other people do much good, but I did feel very much as if I was being carried and supported by the people who were praying for me.

One card in particular, from someone I used to work with, said, simply, “I am holding you in the light.” I have since learned that that is a Quaker saying (which makes sense, as this man is a Quaker), and it deeply resonated with me. Sometimes the idea of prayer is a little more than I can manage – how could I possibly know exactly what to ask for someone? What if I get it wrong? – but the idea of lifting someone into the light, where there can be no darkness . . . that makes sense. It reminded me very much of the quotes above from Charles Williams and Madeleine L’Engle, the idea that intercessory prayer isn’t so much about me saying the right things, that it’s not really about what I do at all.

I would say that I pray every day, but lately I have not always known what to say lately other than, “Hi, I’m still here.” I have found myself taking a lot of deep breaths and focusing on God, though not necessarily saying much of anything. And I have continued to feel as if God is very close, as if he’s right next to me and I could almost touch him. Maybe he likes it when I don’t fill the silence with words all the time, when I sit in the quiet and trust that he is there, that he knows what I can’t find the words to say. This seems to me to be a more mature kind of praying than I managed when I was a teenager, demanding that God work in certain ways and not knowing how to handle it when, most of the time, he didn’t.

I know that when I pray for other people, it changes me – makes my heart softer, gives me more compassion, gives me wisdom about my relationship with them, but I wonder sometimes if it does anything at all for them. It was encouraging to feel carried along, a reminder that there are things going on underneath the surface that I can’t see.

“Prayer was never meant to be magic,” Mother said.
“Then why bother with it?” Suzy scowled.
“Because it’s an act of love,” Mother said. -Madeleine L’Engle, A Ring of Endless Light

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