Prayer has a pulse
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” ~ William Hutchison Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951)
Prayer had always baffled me. I never knew where to direct my words, and I had no idea what to really say. It felt awkward, but I did it anyway. In fact, I had been on prayer chains for many years. I prayed for others because I said that I would. But, I never really trusted that anything happened.
Until my life depended on it. Then, there was velocity in my prayers. It was no longer about getting the words right; it became a way to navigate the unseen forces that were clearly supporting my life. It felt like I had penetrated an invisible barrier that had kept God remote and I began to feel certain that I was heard. Things began to move in my life and things that I needed to happen did. I was on the razor’s edge of survival in the first few days after my surrender, but doors opened and people appeared when I needed them to. That is why I had the courage to face my pain. Something was listening to me; something was responding to my requests.
During the third day of my stay, my blood pressure and pulse were dangerously high. Alcohol withdrawal is serious, and it got me out of there and into an ambulance. Before the ambulance pulled away, three men stood behind the back window with their hands clasped in prayer, saying,
“pray, baby, pray.”
I hardly knew them, but I felt that gesture like a pulse. A sign of life. Beautiful, hopeful, and alive. Facing my pain began to feel like an act of creation. Something was emerging from behind my eyes and it was connected to everything. The fact that it was happening when I was completely broken and ashamed, made its beauty more penetrating.