The Angelus by Jean-François Millet- 1957-1959
Prayer is often a ‘kick in the pants’ for me. Praying about something can spur me into action.
Praying for a family member who is struggling with health issues prompts me to think about what I have done to support that person. Have I called to see how they are feeling? Have I brought them a meal? Have I sent them a card?
The Prayer of the Spinner by Gerard Dou – 1650
If I am praying about a change I’d like to see in my professional or personal life my prayers often ‘egg me on’ forcing me to consider what concrete actions I have taken or not taken to move that agenda forward.
If I am praying about a social issue that concerns me, my prayers can raise good questions. Have I written a blog post, a newspaper column or a letter to the editor about that issue? Have I talked to others about my opinions? Have I done the research to look for possible solutions? Have I tried to find political candidates who share my concern?
Sometimes for me, prayer is a ‘kick in the pants’ or a call to action.
A Change of Prayer
A Prayer For a Golf Tournament
Two Poets on Prayer
A photo I took of women praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem
I pray every night before I go to sleep. I have a litany of things I pray about. For the most part, my prayer list is just individual expressions of hope for good things for members of my family, my friends, myself and the world. I truly believe you can make a difference by naming your hopes deliberately and routinely and sending those sincere desires out into the universe or winging up to a divine power. I know reminding myself each night of the things I hope for, also inspires and motivates me to take whatever actions I can to make my prayers a reality.
In the past, my prayers for the world have always been pretty general. I pray for things like an end to poverty and an end to war and conflict. But at the beginning of June when I saw President Trump waving a Bible around in front of a church, I was so sad at how negatively the world has been affected by having an American leader with such a lack of moral integrity, I actually started praying specifically for many nights in a row that President Trump would lose the coming November election. That prayer didn’t sit well with me though. I hated to say his name and honestly I didn’t want to use my prayers to wish anyone ill.
Then I heard an interview with Stacey Abrams, an American lawyer and a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives who is one of the candidates Joe Biden is considering as a running mate. She was talking about how voting is an act of faith. She said her parents had both been pastors and they had taught her to believe that you get what you work for, but you also get what you pray for. She compared the act of voting to an act of prayer, a prayer that good people with good hearts and good intentions would be elected.
I loved that. I decided I would stop praying that President Trump would lose the election and instead pray that good people with good hearts and good intentions would win. I would pray that those who loved mercy and justice would prevail in our world.
Of course, I never know in what way, or in what time, the things I pray and hope for will come to fruition, or unfold. But that has never stopped me from praying for them in the past and won’t stop me from praying for them now.
Prayer at the Winnipeg Art Gallery
Spiritual Practices in Yunnan China
Prayer for a Golf Tournament
A new exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery by artist James Webb is called Prayer. The installation is an ongoing project that began in Cape Town South Africa in 2000. The 10th version currently at the Winnipeg Art Gallery was created in the city of Chicago. The exhibit consists of dozens and dozens of recordings of prayers spoken by people of many different religious affiliations. There are prayers said by Catholics, Lutherans, Occultists, Episcopalians, Hindus, Bahai, Presbyterians, Mormons and Methodists. There are prayers spoken in Buddhist temples, Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques and evangelical churches.
Visitors can take off their shoes and walk down the red carpet listening to the prayers arising from all the different speakers or they can sit down in front of one speaker and listen to the variety of prayers emanating from it.
James Webb is a musician and visual artist from South Africa and has a degree in comparative religions. As he moves his project to one city after another Webb creates a collaborative community of people from many different faiths and provides a sort of spiritual and religious landscape of that city. As I experienced the Chicago version of Prayer I thought how interesting it would be to create a similar installation with people from the city of Winnipeg.
Prayer will be in Winnipeg till May. Be sure to stop in and experience it on your next visit to the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
A Prayer For a Golf Tournament
An Artist’s Prayer
A Prayer for the New Year
Two Artists on Prayer