Prayer 1 of 3
For many us on the margins, we have not been exposed to a God of love. Even though it is said throughout The Bible, that God is of love. Yet, the name of God is used to exclude those of us treated as the “other” and not treated with love. For example, 1 John 4:16 (NIV) reads, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”.
Although living or experiencing love may not be something we have had, we still have love within us. The act of prayer is expressing our need to be a part of the cycle of love. God knew us, before we knew ourselves or our society knows us. God loves us just as we are. This is why, our focus of prayer is first for ourselves.
Jesus asks us to pray, giving the example of the Lord’s Prayer, so we could learn where or how to focus our prayer intentions. We first pray for ourselves, then we pray for others. For example, to allow ourselves to forgive what we have done or left undone (Matthew 6:12), then we can forgive others. This is the beginning of loving our neighbors as ourselves, it begins with ourselves. It may begin in small ways, evolving over time.
If we cannot pray for ourselves we can ask others to pray for us. Whether that is a friend or asking a Saint or Holy Person to pray for us, is intercessory prayer. Intercessory Prayer helps someone else with loving their neighbor as themselves and vice versa, as we begin to recognize, someone cares enough to pray for us. That is part of our connection to our humanity of finding community. At some point we will find ourselves praying for someone, to continue the flow of prayers.
There is always a beginning and the beginning is not outside of us, it always begins with us. It may not be easy and it may not be understood at first, but a trusted spiritual person can help with prayers and to direct our prayers. Jesus says he is the beginning and the end, that can be the beginning of a new way of life and an end of life without love. Prayer is the use of language to speak what is in our hearts.