January 16 and 17 I attended a Prayer Bead Retreat at Camp MInnescah. It could not have been a more beautiful weekend. Twenty women gathered to learn about the history of prayer beads in many different religious traditions. Amazing, we Protestants are discovering their unique properties to aid in prayer. Learning about prayer bead lead us to to selecting clay of wonderful colors and to creating the beads. The creative work was enhanced by our prayers as we formed the beads.
In the brisk Kansas wind, the dry grasses rustled. I felt alive and exhilarated.
Path along the Ninnescah River
I was among a group of women gathered to create our own prayer beads. We worked in prayerful atmosphere. We prayed, sang and worshiped but most of all we formed bonds of friendship, A new year, just beginning was beginning to fill with hope.
We are accustomed to “checking-in”, a task we perform to get our boarding pass on the flight for which we have purchased a ticket. It’s an easy task to check in on my home computer and print my boarding pass for my departing flight. However, away from home, checking in and especially printing a boarding pass can be a bit more complicated. Airlines offer apps to check in on your smart phone. Never the less, you must check in at the security gate, a process that can be tedious. Signing your name, getting your packet at a seminar and name badge is another familiar activity. Arriving at a hotel, checking in at the registration desk or picking up a prepaid ticket at the admissions desk involves checking in. All check-in involve some form of identifying yourself.
Nowadays, many of us check-in with our friends on Facebook. In fact, Facebook invites you to “Share how you’re feeling or what you’re doing.” Most support groups counselling groups begin with an invitation to share your feelings and what is happening with you In an individual counselling session the counselor or therapist may start the session asking you to share about your present circumstances.
A far deeper checking-in is a part of prayer, a going inward process. Though formal and public prayer could involve a checking-in with God, individual prayer by its very nature involves going deep into our innermost self. A prayer that begins with checking-in involves a humble request, “Search me, O God, and know my heart,” Psalm 139:23. Checking-in involves putting aside pride, ego and above an attitude of knowing our needs. Surely God knows are needs. More than we know ourselves.
Checking-in at the onset of prayer is identifying yourself, who are, where you, how are you feeling right now, what bothers you. Checking-in part of prayer is like going through customs at an international airport. Not only will your baggage be checked, but you will be asked questions about what you are brining into the country. Checking-in when you pray is like that, only you are the one going through you baggage asking yourself, what am I brining into prayer today? How do I feel? Is there anything I need to declare? Asking these questions is the invitation for God to search into our hidden places to illuminate the dark places in our hearts. “[T]ry me and know my thoughts try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me,” urges the Psalmist further in Psalm 139:24.
Prayer should not be a list of our requests but rather going into your inner room, closing the door and praying to our Father who is in secret, who sees our secrets. Jesus taught, “when you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. “Pray, then, in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:7-13
Listen to The Prayer
Our busy lives can become a barrier to spending time in prayer. Like the airlines apps, prayer websites can help us check-in with our soul’s needs.
The Angel of the Hour is my favorite prayer website.Angel of the Hour
I love closing my day with Compline Compline