“WE ALL PRAY whether we think of it as praying or not.” —Frederick Buechner.
Frederick Buechner reminds us that the sigh that automatically leaps from us when we see beauty, art, music, mouth-watering comfort food, or old friends can be identified as the thanks, wow prayers that Anne Lamott has written about in Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (Riverhead, 2012). There is something inside of us, the God in us, the Christ in us, the Spirit within us, that cannot help but direct us back to the connection we came from. This is another word for prayer: a connection to the place from which we came.
Buechner also reminds us of all the stories in the New Testament about how God assures us that persistence in prayer can make a difference in our lives. The Hound of Heaven is in pursuit of us, and we are to follow that example. If nothing else, we are also heeding C. S. Lewis’ advice to “act as if” we believe in that power greater than ourselves—and eventually something happens. The 12-step groups put it more simply, “fake it, till you make it.”
Buechner also suggests that even if we consider prayer to be merely talking to ourselves, it is not a bad practice. It can be similar to the Ignatian examen, in which we consider what is happening in our life. We review our day and discover insights that we might never have known if we had not stopped to consider where we need help and which path might be best. We soon learn that we are probably called to the road less traveled—which, of course, leads to many more prayers.