One of the reasons I decided to blog about my year long adventure in getting happier was to hold myself accountable for the resolutions and goals I set for myself. I thought by making myself blog at least four times a week (and knowing that people were reading it) that I would hold strong to those goals. Well, I failed. Last Sunday after church I made a goal to pray for the first time in five years. Turns out (and not surprisingly) I feel more comfortable with the noise in my head. I kept telling myself, “Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow.” Guess what? Something else always came up. Don’t get me wrong though – I did try. I have always followed the thought that when the world burdens you, you should find peace in nature. I’m in my element when I’m on the trail – I feel the most at peace, spiritual, and grounded in life there. I guess you could say that for the past five years I have considered my church to be the outdoors. So, I thought the trail would be the perfect place to pray. I hiked for three hours, stopped at cliffs overlooking the river, layed down and stared up at the sky. And my only thought was, “Wow, it’s f-ing hot.” Prayer attempt one. Fail.
My second attempt at praying was to meditate. A few months back my mom and I attended a group meditation class where we would read a mantra and then reflect on it, letting our minds wander. I enjoyed meditating a lot – my mind always took me to neat places and I was always strangely calm afterwards. I thought maybe meditating would clear out the noise in my head and I could open myself up to prayer. So, on Friday night I closed the curtains and doors in my room, lit a bunch of smelly-good candles, and grabbed a rock from my backyard (I know it’s weird, but work with me here – rocks have spiritual energy in the meditation world). Since I didn’t have a mantra to read, I just followed the steps to guide my mind and body into a meditative state. I did get rid of the noise in my head for 20 minutes and I felt peaceful when I was done. I decided to open my mouth to say a prayer to God. All that came out was, “God, I’m hungry.” I cleaned up everything and went out with some friends. Prayer attempt two. Fail.
So you see, I did try. It seemed to me my efforts were fruitless. And what I didn’t want to write about in my blog was that I failed. Interestingly enough, though, I did find some enlightenment a few days later. Where? Church. Today’s message was about doubting God. Not in terms of existence, but in terms of prayer. What I learned: prayer happens in the unlikeliest of places. It doesn’t always happen sitting on a pillow or hiking a trail (although it is possible). It may not even happen in a place where there is no noise. More often than not, prayer happens in the calmest of all places: your heart. And that’s when it hit me. I will never be that person who prays out loud, or who even prays in my head. For whatever reason, I can’t do it. I’m not going to pretend to be someone I’m not, but you know what? I do have a million things I want to pray for! And so came my third attempt: write it down. When I got home, I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen, and here is what I wrote: “Dear God, please help me to learn to pray with my heart and not with my head. The noise up there is pretty distracting.” And there you have it, my first prayer.