Monday, April 11, 2011
Secret Prayer - Week #8
"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:6)
Prayer has truly become my lifeline as I am nearly two months into my Excellent Adventure in getting fit, losing weight, and feeling vibrant and healthy. I wanted to show you WHERE I say most of my "formal" prayers, as this small, three-foot-wide spot in our bedroom has become sacred ground, where miracles have and are taking place. This formerly unused space now plays a key role in the successes I am having as I stretch toward my goals.
I had seen this little antique Chinese stool while out shopping with my mother in December. I can't explain why, but it just spoke to me: "Buy me!, You need me!, Aren't I beautiful?, We could do great things, you and I!" I didn't take its advice immediately, but as I started to gear up for my Adventure, my mind kept returning to my new little stool friend. A couple of months later, one week into my fitness journey, I drove an hour north and purchased it, and it now sits right where you see it, between my side of the bed and the window.
First thing in the morning and last thing at night, you will find me right here, perched on my stool. I always have my inspiration notebook with me, ready to capture any spiritual promptings I may receive. Morning prayer is more of a consecration of the day ahead, always with a specific pleading for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Evening prayer consists of "returning and reporting" on the important things that I had planned to do that day. I am absolutely certain that my Heavenly Father is intimately aware of me and hears my prayers. As I pour out my heart to him, I feel guided to do specific, PERFECT things that I know I just wouldn't think of on my own. When I am courageous and ACT on these promptings, wonderful, surprising things unfold during my day. I am learning to more faithfully follow the whisperings of the Spirit, proving time and time again that He knows so much better than I what is good and needful for me.
"There is an hour of peace and rest, Unmarred by earthly care;
'Tis when before the Lord I go, And kneel in secret prayer.
May my heart be turned to pray, Pray in secret day by day,
That this boon to mortals giv'n May unite my soul with heav'n."
(Hymn #144, Secret Prayer)
There is conscious thought that goes into making this little space ready for prayer in the morning! I immediately make the bed, because for me, my mind can be open, uncluttered, and at ease when things around me are neat and tidy. I throw back the curtains, and with any luck, some rays of sunshine will penetrate the sheer linens underneath. I always open the window a bit, too, both for the fresh, cool morning air and also for the sounds: birds chirping, rain falling, or whatever else nature is presenting that morning. I switch my light on, grab my notebook and pen, and settle in. I start to consider the day ahead: What things are on my calendar? How can I put "first things first" this day? How can I best serve my family? How can I be efficient but not too busy so that I miss an opportunity to help someone? What are my personal goals for the day? What part of my home should I focus on cleaning/organizing? How will it FEEL when I meet my challenges head-on and charge through the hurdles that will come before me? How can I be more kind and loving? ...
After contemplating in detail the day ahead, (spiritual creation) I will fold my arms, bow my head, close my eyes, and start to talk to my Heavenly Father. There is something so REAL and PERSONAL about praying out-loud. This is kind of new for me, but when I am able, it really does make a difference. Some days my prayers are long and pleading, other days they are brief and to-the-point, and still other times they are a long run-on sentence of "I am so thankful fors..." My prayer conversations ebb and flow from day to day just as do life experiences shared regularly with a cherished friend. I realize how far I have come from my nightly rote prayer as a little girl: "Now I lay me down to sleep..."
I follow with quiet, meditative time where I might jot down impressions or ideas in my notebook. Its pages hold things like: details of today's exercise plan (route/intensity/length), meals to prepare, shopping lists, inspiring quotes I want to memorize, future blogging ideas, someone special to connect with, notes to write, phone calls to make, powerful verses of scripture, a record of my weight loss and measurements to-date, songs to add to my ipod, and other Notes to Self. I come back to these pages many times during the course of the day, and am a crazy-woman about CHECKING THINGS OFF. I have learned that the Spirit speaks to me very clearly when I am putting pencil to paper, and therefore it is worth it for me to invest time in this practice each day.
After visualizing the day ahead, I try to spend some time in the scriptures while I'm still there on my stool. I don't rush this ... I'm not trying to reach a quota or finish a chapter, but rather am searching for personal inspiration for my life at that moment.
"But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
"Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you."
(Book of Mormon, Alma 34: 26-27)
I WISH that we were sitting face-to-face, and that you would share your ideas about personal prayer with me. Does this practice make a difference in your life? Do you have a favorite place to pray? How do you hear the voice of the Spirit? I think that we would agree together that prayer is one of our greatest blessings from a loving, very present Father in Heaven.
Now, just a few notes from the previous week:
1. I am 17 pounds lighter than I was seven weeks ago! The scale rewarded my efforts and showed a two pound loss from last Monday, which caused me to momentarily whoop it up this morning!
2. I am very conscious of my first short-range goal that is rapidly approaching: to lose 30 pounds by my birthday on May 16. If I can stay focused, motivated, and inspired, I believe that I will be able to achieve this. If I do, I may just celebrate with homemade strawberry shortcake WITH whipped cream, thank you very much.
3. The best compliment I've had in a long time: my sweet, supportive husband told me the other day that I've got the sparkle back in my eyes that he fell in love with years ago. He hadn't realized I had lost it until it appeared again lately. I attribute this to inner peace, relief from my arthritis, and just feeling plain ol' terrific about the journey I'm on. Three cheers for 'a sparkle in the eye'!!
4. Today, being that it's Monday, was "Easy Run" day. That meant my two-mile loop in 25 minutes, which a couple weeks ago was my "Long/Harder Run". Progress! And guess what? I felt STRONG, and it was, in fact "easy"! Yes!!
5. My diet is still sugar-free, except for the very worth it bite of Eileen's homemade strawberry ice cream I sampled last week. I will finish this eighth week out, and then re-evaluate.
6. We are signed up for dairy home delivery from Smith Brothers: organic milks, organic brown eggs, locally-made butter, and Ron's "run recovery" chocolate milk. A cool thing about this is that the milk is delivered within 24 hours of milking. We get our silver metal porch box on Wednesday! I'll let you know what we think.
7. Later this week: my Inspiration Ribbon-Board, personal review on Yurtopia's earbud enhancers, and a recipe or two. Come back and visit!! Onward!!