I have recently been undergoing some physiotherapy in my neck and shoulder. First, the pain and swelling had to decrease, then the muscles had to relax, now I’m working on stretching the muscles, and next is preparing them for some strengthening exercises. Eventually, those exercises will lead me to health and well-being.
Physio is a process. It takes time, practice, effort. It takes commitment. Some days are better than others; when I do too much or too little, my body lets me know it. But I also know that if I try to rush the process, or skip steps, or ignore the exercises, I could end up worse off in the long run. The biggest challenge right now is my impatience.
I was recently reflecting on how physio is a lot like prayer. When we are first starting to pray, it can feel awkward or clumsy. But when we commit to the practice, we will start to notice ourselves getting a bit better at it, day by day. Some days will feel more comfortable than others, of course, but there is no such thing (in my opinion) as a bad bout of prayer.
How we choose to pray, however, is entirely up to us. Some folks will pray use aids (such as candles, beads, icons) while others do not; some use written prayers or guides while others pray extemporaneously; some will dedicate specific time to prayer while others are more flexible in their scheduling. Standing or sitting, eyes open or shut, aloud or silent, in a group or by ourselves, long or short duration: how we pray is as individual as we are, because our relationship with God is as individual and beautifully unique as we are.
There is no right or wrong way to pray. It’s something we need to figure out for ourselves. It’s a practice, or exercise, that we ought to undertake daily. And it will help us in so many ways. Our spiritual connections will be strengthened, our relationship with God will grow, our spiritual health will improve. But it takes time and practice. As much as I might prefer, I wouldn’t expect to be instantly healed by one session of physio; likewise I wouldn’t expect to find myself a gifted and experienced pray-er unless I was willing to commit to the exercise of daily prayer.
Prayer takes time, and practice, and effort, as do all manners of healing and growth and strengthening. But, once we have decided that we are going to do it, and we commit to it, we discover that it is always worth that effort. I pray that we might all commit to this practice, that we not get frustrated by the process; such that we all might reap the benefits that come from regular prayer.