We were all taught and asked to pray to seek God if our upbringing was good enough. As we got older we made our own prayer discoveries and imitated those good examples we saw from saints, elders, clerics or teachers.
In pictures or statues we saw saints with clasped hands, raised arms, bowed heads, folded knees, lingering faces or hands on chest or rib cage. In adoration, we kissed walls, the ground or venerate images to make concrete a deep longing for God, which sometimes no word could ever describe, but the act of kneeling, bowing or touching the image and holy ground.
Some said that prayer is a word with complex meanings like having different levels of prayers, like having diverse sets of litanies and more sundry like analysis, equation or a set of rules.
Way back in the past at St. Martin church in Manila, I marveled about a woman, who chanted incessantly a prayer while she touched sick people. I said, “Is she like a saint who can heal?” There was a long line of church goers and sick people and my Dad said that we have to line up and be blessed by her praying hands. It was requested that when it was your turn, you had to close the eyes. The kid in me got curious when she started to touch me. I only half-closed my eyes and I saw how she prayed earnestly and full of faith.
In the Black Nazarene and Mother of Perpetual Help churches, there were a lot of people who walked the isles on knees. Again, I mulled over “Why do they have to do that? Is there power and more grace in kneeling? Is it a race of pleas and first one in?”
During my first time to leave the country for work abroad, I tried the knee walk to the altar. I dared my questions to get the answers. It was nothing grand during the process of kneeling heading to the altar because the thought was chanting Hail Mary. Energy was bursting and after I reached the end point, I felt the arduous pleading of my own heart, assured and blithe in God’s grace and love.
See this example from 1 Corinthians on love. You may substitute the word prayer to the word love and see how prayer and love can almost mean the same.
Prayer is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude.
Prayer does not demand in its own way.
It is not irritable or touchy.
It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.
It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out.
If you pray for someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
All the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but prayer (love) goes on forever.
In John, Jesus replied “The time is coming, when we will no longer be concerned about whether to worship the Almighty Father here or in Jerusalem. For it is not where we worship that counts, but how we worship. Is our worship spiritual and real? Do we have the Holy Spirit’s help? For God is Spirit, and we must have his help to worship as we should… “
/photo by jonathan flores