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Just saw the Garden City school bus drive by. School’s not in session yet, so they’re probably on a practice run. The bus just came to a complete stop in the middle of the block, without a child in sight; yes — it’s definitely a practice run.
As I watched that routine unfold, I wondered: how many times in life do we get a practice run?
Someone might see how long it takes to drive to a new school or workplace before it starts … or someone else might try out a new recipe before having a dinner party. And there’s show biz, of course, that has dress rehearsals. But for the most part, there’s really no practice run for life itself.
This is it. The real deal. Right now. Today.
And when I’m confronted with a difficult situation, difficult person, or difficult emotion, there’s really no practicing — it’s just reacting and responding as best as I can, it seems.
Nevertheless, I’ve come to think of my prayer life as a sort of practice time. For me, it’s a time to “try on” or to practice becoming the kind of person I hope to be. It’s a time when I can talk to God about forgiveness and “practice” starting to say, “God I know I need to forgive, but I’m not even sure where to begin. Help me out here.”
Prayer time can be a time when I practice being peaceful. Remembering that God is ultimately in control, and I really don’t have to stay in a continual state of simmering panic. Instead, I practice what it’s like to rest. Resting in the fact that God really loves me and wants what’s best for me -- it's a like a soul spa. And no matter how crazy (or out of control) the circumstance seems, I remember (in that place of prayer) that God’s love is even stronger and greater.
Prayer is when I practice learning to be compassionate toward myself, as well as toward others. It’s when I remember that I’m a work in progress, perfection is not actually possible, and pretending that I’m going to “arrive” at some super human state of hyper-productivity and hyper-effectiveness is NOT what God calls me to become. Instead, God calls me to be honest, humble, and hopeful.
Prayer is when I practice being a citizen of God’s kingdom — where God’s will is done, not mine. Where God blesses me so I can bless others. Where God is charge of fixing people, not me. Where God gives me courage to do what I’m called to do: Live justly. Love kindness. Humbly serve.
The practice of prayer might not make (me) perfect, but it sure can make things better. So let’s do this!