Stepping Stones: Pray
The Stepping Stones series is an online space where we dive deeper into the Way of Love practices, one at a time. Today we are diving into the practice Pray, with a post from Sandra T. Montes, who worships at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston, Diocese of Texas.
Dear God, It’s me, Sandra... or God Is Listening
My life was completely changed because of prayer. I was miraculously healed when, at birth, my family prayed over me. I had a 5% chance of survival and the doctors told my poor (literally, not figuratively) parents they could take me home to die because they couldn’t afford to send me to the US for an operation (I was born in Perú). I love that my life started with a story of prayer that moves mountains, of prayer that moves God to do the impossible, of simple, faith-filled, life-giving prayer.
My mom is a woman of prayer. I am tearing up thinking about how she prays for me daily. I have always seen her praying. She will kneel beside each bed and pray over the person who sleeps there. Any time I need some major prayer, I ask her to pray for me. She wears different colored bracelets depending on who she is praying for that day or week. I have learned so much from my mom about the importance of prayer. I have seen praying over people, even strangers, when they have asked. She has a very soft, gentle way about her so people are drawn to her and share their pain.
When I was about 16, I met a woman, Chayanne, at church and became fast friends. She taught me something about prayer that I had not realized before. She taught me that I could pray – truly – without ceasing. She told me that I did not need to bow my head or close my eyes to pray. That I could have a continuous conversation with God all day long. How? Well, she said, just talk with God like God is right next to you all day long because God is. I asked her so many questions and she, patiently, answered and modeled that incessant prayer life. Nothing fancy, no rosy language, no memorized poetry, just simple all-day-long conversations.
At first, I felt a little foolish. “God, hi.” Now, my mom has always told me that I have had a close relationship with God even as a child. I would often laugh with God during our prayer times. But I guess as I grew, I started hearing “rules” or “appropriateness” of prayer. So, laughter and secrets were off-limits during prayer at youth group and Sunday school. I started trying that ongoing prayer and eventually it became a habit, a spiritual practice. I have shared this with others and hope that all our preconceived rules of prayer will diminish as we realize we can have a continuing conversation with God, with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Today, I have an ongoing conversation with God. When I am alone, it is often out loud. When I am with others, it is in my heart, mind and sometimes in whispers. I hear God contradicting me when I am telling myself negative things or when I feel I cannot do something or, especially, when I am being mean. I pray for everything and everyone. I even pray for that parking spot (yes, I know some are rolling their eyes). Why? Because God is listening and, like our parent, is happy to get a text, a call, a message from their favorite child.
Sandra T. Montes has spent many years developing original bilingual resources for her church, school and others and has volunteered and worked in the Episcopal Church since she was welcomed in 1986. Sandra serves as a musician, translator, speaker, consultant and writer. Her passions include discipleship, stewardship, evangelism and social justice. She earned her doctorate in education in 2016 and is a full-time freelance consultant and musician.