>Strung out on Prayer, Part Three


 Jasper, Resin, Czech Fire Polished Glass, Sterling Silver. June, 2011

Each Bead is a Bite of Prayer

Compared to most of the world’s people, I am blessed with days that roll along as if mounted on low-resistance tires. Sometimes, though, a tire goes flat: some unexpected challenge punctures the surface as surely as a pothole flattens a tire.

And when days scrape and bump past slow hours, I have an unfortunate tendency to hurry through evening prayers. When exhaustion has invaded, I abbreviate: Instead of naming names and struggles, I’ll whisper, “Father, You know our needs, You know the needs of our family, our friends–I lift them all up to You and ask for Your will.”

I am not fond of mass uploads, my term for these truncated chats with my Father.

But sometimes, when the day’s demands drip through the still of its hours, collecting, drop by drop, at its end into fatigue, I drink of that strong bitter cocktail. On those nights, I fall back on these feeble prayers like a drunk collapses into a chair.

My prayer beads help me remember to be specific when I come before my God. I’ve written twice before about praying with beads. A few weeks ago I gave my beads away and made another strand.

Creeping through my local bead store, Lake Forest’s Bead Station, I choose supplies. The atmosphere is soothing and I see promise hanging in hanks on the walls. I’m offered help, but free to browse until I’m ready to consult with an expert. It’s a lovely shop.

I imagine I’m in the produce department, picking ingredients for a fruit salad. It’s easy to see the colors that appeal–a crisp glass bead, pale as iceberg lettuce, offset by an artichoke-green stone, interspersed with dark resin beads as dusky as fresh blueberries.

And then I remember. I select fruit with my nose. I must choose these beads by touch. I take up a candidate strand, run my fingers over the beads. Just as I make that salad with a mind to attractive colors and well-married flavors, the beads that I choose need to soothe my eye and charm my fingertips.

It’s the beads beneath my fingers that slow me as I pray, each bead a bite of prayer I offer up to God.

16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

 John 15:16 (NASB)