I didn’t start out planning to give my life to prayer. The notion sort of snuck up on me. A series of collisions, near misses, and faltering steps toward love drew me into the lap of holiness. In the confusion there were some moments of clarity. Once driving with my friend, Wanda, through Kentucky countryside lush with the aching beauty of spring, I blurted out my passion. “I think I could just live in a hut somewhere and pray all the time, but I am married and want to have children, and besides I am a Presbyterian.” I was soon to graduate from three years of seminary preparation to be a minister. We were talking about what we planned to do with our lives. Wanda turned to me, mouth open and said, “Well my God, Loretta, if someone wanted to do something like that that bad, I think God would want them to too.”
It took me a while to figure out the logistics, but for the past twenty six years I have focused my life in prayer. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that prayer has focused my life. Prayer has clarified, refined, and made more visible for me my own being and the being of all things.
I spend a lot of my time chasing after the elusive lover of our souls, scrambling after crumbs and leavings on the path. Occasionally I kick up heart stopping showers of diamonds in the dust. Like most things we deeply desire and set out to do, it hasn’t been easy.
For example, there aren’t many models. It is not that people do not pray. Research shows that most of us do in one way or another. Research also shows that many of us do not care to talk to each other about it. The person who deliberately sets out to make a life project of prayer finds few persons outside a monastery who understand this calling. A life of prayer is such an antiquated notion that if you have heard of someone who has done this, it is quite likely they are dead. I am not.
In fact there are more people than you may think, who have been stricken as I and are willing to live like beggars for love of God. I know quite a few who knock themselves out for the compelling beauty of the Holy One. They pine away for this Lover and feel lonely and afraid sometimes. They wonder if anything good can come from being hidden away in prayer. They also have a marvelously good time walking on this earth. I believe they do an incredible amount of good for us all. There could be one living next door to you right now.
At this point you may be wondering – So what is prayer anyway? Good question. We will get to that. No rush though. We have eternity.
To read more about people who pray a lot, see a new book called Consider the Ravens – On Contemporary Hermit Life by Paul and Karen Fredette. www.ravensbreadministries.com