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From The Back Pew:

The power of prayer

May 01, 2010|By Michael Arvizu

Prayer is one of the most difficult, most intimate things you can do. You open yourself up and sometimes admit things about yourself to thin air that you wouldn’t tell anyone.

It’s also one of the harder things to explain. I’ve already had to scrap twice what I had originally planned for this week’s column. I’ve had to consider all the questions: How do you pray? Why do you pray? When do you pray? With whom? Who prays more? Who prays less? Who prays not at all?

And above all: What is prayer?

If I attempted to answer the above questions, my editors would have a fit at the enormity the piece.

So, my take on prayer:

OK, I pray, sure. But I don’t kneel at the side of my bed at night, with my hands clasped, head bowed and eyes closed asking the Lord “my soul to keep.” No, that’s not me.


I pray when I need things, like this column. I ask, Lord help me come up with a column this week that doesn’t sound stupid, is turned in on deadline, and is free of mistakes. For me, that’s sometimes the only connection I have with God all week. Lord, please grant me the wisdom to come up with a great story idea for next week’s paper.

Do I thank the Lord when I do find a story that meets my writing quota for next week? Probably not. Do I do the same thing the next week? Absolutely.

Prayer sometimes frightens me, especially when I have to do it with groups. I have to open myself up to these group of people?

I don’t think I am alone. This past Sunday, I attended a confirmation class where one of the requirements to being a confirmation sponsor, as I am, is to pray constantly with your confirmation candidate.

“When was the last time you prayed with your confirmation candidate?” the facilitator asked of the teenage candidates and older sponsors. Only one pair raised their hands. We all looked around the room dumbfounded, most of us probably thinking the same thing: Were we supposed to be praying for and with each other this whole time?

Then he had us do the unthinkable, especially for the teens. He asked us to stare into each other’s eyes and pray for each other for five minutes. Understanding the magnitude of the request, the facilitator was quick to add that as awkward as this was, this form of prayer could be the start of a beautiful relationship between sponsor and candidate.

So prayer can be intimate and frightening, but it can also be the catalyst for becoming closer to God and to each other.

I write this column in advance of National Day of Prayer, which is Thursday. Hopefully we can all take a moment that day, if not to pray, at least to reflect on the events of the past year — positive and negative — that we have all faced, as a community and personally.

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