Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pray, Then Pay Attention

My finances have presented new challenges as a solo homeowner. My financial terrain will be steep for awhile, and so I decided to pray my way through this time rather than chew my nails with anxiety. My new prayer is this: Please, God, help me be open and receptive to the abundance you want for me.
I like this prayer for a few reasons: 1. It keeps me in a state of gratitude and positivity. Even on my lowest bank balance days, I KNOW that I have more than most of my brothers and sisters around the globe. Keeping this perspective helps a lot. 2. This prayer acknowledges that God's imagination and long-view is broader than mine. It keeps me from pigeon-holing God. 3. It's exciting. It invites an air of excitement and adventure in my spiritual life and relationship with God. 4. It's working.

How do I know it's working? Let me tell you. Since I began praying and then paying attention, three separate side job opportunities have come my way. Three friends have reached out to me to help them in some particular way. This is not a coincidence, dear Reader. This is prayer at work.

And then one day I looked down at my phone and found that I had a message from a friend from a long time ago. He reached out to tell me that he enjoyed reading my blog and shared other unexpected words of encouragement. Words that I didn't know that I needed to hear until I read them.

Abundance, people, Abundance.

Yesterday, I was in a funk. Several hiccups occurred at work and I felt weary and spent. I was weepy missing my grandmothers and other long-distance friends I don't see often enough. I was frazzled. I was melancholy. I was hormonal. The funk felt big. I wondered how I'd pull myself out of it. I drove home with the windows down, hair blowing, and the radio blaring. Singing helps with my funks. So I sang and remembered to pray my go-to prayer.

I spent the evening puttering around my house. I'd made a mess of creativity with several projects on my kitchen table, so I spent some time creating some order there. Then I read a chapter of the book I'm currently reading. And then it happened. I felt this strong pull toward my piano. I lifted the lid of the piano bench and rifled through the music. I am not a good piano player, but last night it didn't matter. Sitting at the piano, plunking my way through the notes was a way to get outside of my head and to concentrate on something else.

I started with A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. “We have no foe to fear, Our strength, our help is near; Whose power is manifest To lay our fears to rest. There was that word that creeps into my bones and threatens to settle in: fear. I'm not coping with my fears well lately. I played this tune three times. By the third time, it sounded a little bit like a hymn.

And then I propped This Is a Day of New Beginnings up against the piano. It's an unfamiliar hymn in our denomination's new song book. It had three flats, which ordinarily would have convinced me to not even try. But I was up for the challenge. I plunked my way through it a few times before I even tried to look at the lyrics. When I finally did, this is what I found:

"This is a day of new beginnings,
time to remember and move on,
time to believe what love is bringing,
laying to rest the pain that's gone.

For by the life and death of Jesus,
love's mighty Spirit,
now as then,
can make for us a world of difference,
as faith and hope are born again."

At this point I stopped playing, and started crying. Those words! They were what I needed to hear in that very moment. I needed to remember that it's time to remember and move on. I needed to believe in what love is bringing.

"Then let us, with the Spirit's daring,
step from the past and leave behind our disappointment, guilt, and grieving,
seeking new paths, and sure to find.

Christ is alive, and goes before us
to show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
our God is making all things new."

I had texted a friend asking for a big brother pep talk earlier in the evening. A few hours later his response came through and it did not disappoint. I smiled (and cried) because his words echoed the words of this hymn. He was part of the answer to my prayer. He reminded me about hope and faith. That I was on this journey for a reason that is bigger than me. He reminded me that my future is not up to me. It's in God's hands. He told me to be positive. Be hopeful. Pray for opportunities. And love the life I am living.

I am going to keep praying this prayer. I want to see the abundance God has for me.  I want to share what comes my way with others who need it.  I feel better this morning. Better able to take on the world. To walk through the day with joy and tuned to being a blessing to someone else.

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