Right before Big Daddy left this morning, he asked, “What are you going to do today?” It wasn’t a surprise attack or a trap only I began to freak out.
“Oh, I’m gonna do stuff,” I said trying to sound more confident than I felt. Fear started whipping around in my head like a psycho smoothie. What am I going to do today? The question was about actions, but the answer in my head was all feelings: scared, crumbly, panicky feelings. My brain had been replaying some snippets of unfair situations and petty score keeping since before the sun rose and I was not on track for a stellar day. I mean what’s the point in participating anyway? Apparently my poker face was none too convincing. Big Daddy looked concerned.
“What can I do for you?” he asked. The question got my attention–I was thinking only about myself and he was thinking about his poor crazy wife. Sometimes that man of mine is so kind it takes my breath away, but he can’t fix me. That’s not his job.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Begin again.
This is how my day starts more often than I’d like to admit and this is why I pray.
As part of my spiritual practice, I’m supposed to ask God to remove my fear and then direct my attention to what God would have me be. I am promised that I will begin to outgrow fear if I will do this and honestly the results are profound. This morning, I said my prayers and sat still for a few minutes and when I was done there was an awareness that had been missing minutes before. That’s what prayer does for me. It opens my eyes, my ears, and my heart to the world around me.
Fear reduces my world to self centered questions. What about me? Will I be taken care of? Will there be enough? What’s going to happen? Am I going to be okay? What if I’m not? I am focused so much on self that I have no perspective and no idea how to proceed. When I am in fear, I believe that it’s all up to me and I am going to have to figure it out and fix it all by myself and this is true whether my fears are based in real situations, or the “what if” scenarios I manufacture out of thin air.
After I prayed about myself, I decided to pray for the people effected by hurricane Jose. After I prayed, I knew some things I’d like to accomplish. I want to help others in some way so I’m going to reach out to a few people to see if I can comfort or encourage them. I decided to start the day working on something I’ve been postponing. I remembered that there’s a chicken and a roast in the fridge that need to be cooked so I’ll probably go ahead and knock out some cooking. Today I am going to work on a daily game plan for promoting my businesses (which I’ve been threatening to do but haven’t done). More than the fact that my tasks for the day are better defined, prayer settles my spirit so that I can take action.
Sounds pretty good eh? But what if you don’t believe in God? Is prayer off limits for you? I believe you can use prayer even if you don’t believe or aren’t sure about God as long as you have an open mind. You see when I started prayer as a daily practice, I wasn’t sure about God or my faith at all. All I knew was that I didn’t want to go on the way I had been living. I simply took action. I said a prayer several times a day and the simple act of reciting the words began to help. I found that waiting to believe before I took the action was counterproductive. I needed to take the action and the belief followed. I prayed to be changed, not to get things. I prayed to deal with situations more effectively rather than asking for the situations to be fixed. I found that asking wasn’t the problem, but that asking for the wrong things was.
If you’re not sure where to begin, I’ll share one of my very favorite and most life changing prayers: God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.