Following a botched surgical procedure to remove an adrenal gland, my recovery period was anything but quick or easy. Thankfully, I was surrounded by a network of the most loving, thoughtful people. They helped care for my children, they organized a meal calendar, they made sure my pantry was stocked, and much more. I felt so grateful to them, and I wanted to express that gratitude somehow, even if it was just with a token.
I decided to send each of them a little keychain inscribed with a phrase that had come to mean a lot to me: “When everything else fails, just kneel.” Kneeling is a symbol of prayer, of course. I wanted to remind them that although prayer is often disregarded in today’s world, it is a beautiful, powerful tool that is available to all of us. When it feels like things around us are crumbling, we can turn to it. In my own darkest and most confusing time, prayer had become a lifeline.
A Kneeling Heart
As a child, I didn’t really understand prayer. It seemed cold, useless, and boring. It was something you did because it was a good thing to do, the right thing to do, and that was it. For me, at least, there was no heart or soul involved. Just words and sore knees.
That’s not what prayer is to me anymore. Now, I see it as a state of mind and heart: one of stillness, of awareness, of peace. Prayer is not so much an action as it is a place of inner rest. It is not about repeating the Lord’s Prayer over and over, but about being still, feeling my feelings and my body, and telling God I’m ready to receive any messages from him that things are going to be okay.
I don’t kneel when I pray anymore, at least not physically. The older you get, the harder it is to stand back up! Instead, and more importantly, my heart kneels. It rests. It waits. It trusts. I submit the agitation and acceleration of my day-to-day life to a bigger force, to God himself.
In the morning, I usually repeat a traditional prayer of offering to God: “I give You my hands to do Your work. I give You my feet to go Your way. I give You my eyes to see as You do…” During the day, I pray whenever and however I need to, or not at all. They are in-the-moment prayers that flow from my heart. At night, I give thanks for my family, friends, and other blessings.
When I pray, I understand that I am part of something bigger. I realize that there are no mistakes in life, no accidents, no bad luck. Only a giant interconnected universe in which we all play a part. Prayer helps me center myself in a larger picture, one where my life is about far more than survival or self. It reminds me to love and be loved, to give and to receive, to enjoy the moments I’ve been given in their beauty and even in their pain.
Own Your Prayers
When I was little, I prayed for generic, abstract, grand requests like world peace. God was busy and my tiny needs didn’t matter, I assumed. But now, I own my prayers. They are mine, so I pray specifically about things that matter to me. I pray for my body to be a safe haven and for my adrenal gland to be strong. I talk to my body and tell her we’re going to be okay, that I’m grateful for her work. When I promise someone I’m going to be praying for them, I tell them specifically what I’m going to ask for: things like strength, wisdom, peace. If we are close, I’ll ask them what they want me to pray for, rather than assuming I know.
Prayer reminds me that everything happens for a reason. Rather than giving up when life is hard, I can find the light in the midst of darkness. Prayer shows me that light. It helps me believe that life will unfold the way it was meant to, that there is a bigger plan, that there are no mistakes.
You might have a different view of God, prayer, or faith than I do, and that’s a good thing. We are all living and learning together. Prayer is the most personal, intimate expression of your faith, and no one can tell you how to do it. I simply encourage you today to find rest in the truth that you are not alone. You are seen and heard, known and loved, blessed and safe.