I believe in prayer. It is a long-time friend that guides me and accepts my anxieties and fears. In the beginning, prayer was familial. As a young child, I was introduced to prayer from my grandparents. They were devoted Catholics of African ancestry who lived in south Louisiana all of their lives. They recited the rosary every night, my grandfather going to mass each morning to pray before work. They were black, living during the depression in a country trying to reconcile race as a social construct. For them, I believe prayer was a promise and a way to put the ills of the day behind them so they could focus on tomorrow being a better day.
The Catholic Church played a significant role in my mother’s life. The church made education accessible and also taught my mother how to pray. Over time, prayer was not as communal for her. It evolved into an ongoing discussion with God, present with her every day, helping her through every burden and confirming every celebration.
Unlike my grandparents and mother, I had a tortured relationship with religion and did not pray. I equated prayer with religion and did not understand the universalness of it. One Sunday, during mass, I made the distinction and recognized prayer as something separate from religion. With that realization, I asked for guidance. I don’t remember why I decided to seek help, but my ask opened my spirit, and I heard, “I am here.” The connection was made, and I welcomed prayer as a friend.
My relationship with prayer continues to be a journey. I am not always consistent, but I know it is always there for me. Prayer has given me support through many life alternating events. And, it is usually during a crisis that I remember I have not visited my friend and that my life would be better if I just sat and prayed regularly. I hear my mother’s voice asking me, “did you pray?”. Reminding me of the simplicity of asking and receiving and reminding me of the work I need to do to reflect and to make my intentions clear to the universe.
Now my daughters are young adults. One believes in prayer, and the other is agnostic. Each will have individual journeys with prayer, just as I did. It will look different for both of them. What I believe is they will recognize the power of being transparent with intention and asking for help.
Prayer is a source of comfort.
Prayer is a place to lay your burdens down.
Prayer is a friend