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The term “thoughts and prayers ” has very little meaning in a world filled with action. We want it, whatever it may be, right now. We want to roll in the troops and fix whatever is wrong right this minute.

I was raised in a home that was predominately Lutheran. Prayers were stiff, formal, and went line by line. It was reverent, solemn, but while I did pray, I didn’t see the joy in doing so. We have all seen the movies where God is bombarded with requests from the humans below, and it all seemed, well, rather surface level. Get me, give me, fix this, please. It only served one purpose. It wasn’t for helping, it wasn’t for understanding, it was because we had a need or want and like some magic genie, poof, it was supposed to be there. As I grew, I wanted more of a connection. I saw a higher being as being loving, kind, providing support, indeed much like a father. I saw that most prayers in the bible were more like poems, they were a conversation. I too wanted a relationship, not some stiff plea that was randomly thrown out there in the wind. I wanted to be like David and Daniel, I wanted love and a heart like Ruth’s.

I have been through the fire, there were times when I didn’t have the words to pray, just as much as when prayer was all I had. The words I spoke were ragged and were filled with sorrow, but they came from the heart. There have also been times when they were thankful and filled with gratitude. I have prayed that others would hear God in my voice, that he would give me beautiful words that would touch hearts. I have also prayed that he would soften the heart of someone I cared for, surround them with love and give them clarity through a difficult time. They weren’t really prayers, not in the manner we are used to, they weren’t on bended knee, they were conversations. They weren’t uttered in a pew somewhere, the words were spoken when I was out walking, or sitting by the ocean, or out on the patio while watching a sunset. Little by little, I began to ask questions, to seek guidance in situations, and those answers did come. Sometimes they were brought by other people, a line in a well-timed email or post. that eureka moment. That connection is priceless.

Long ago, I found a writer who I connected with through social media, named Hannah Brencher. She is the author of two books “If You Find This Letter” and “Come Matter Here” It was during a time when being in the moment was the phrase du jour, but she brought meaning to that with the idea of what is God teaching me in this moment? She taught me that prayer can be sloppy and that God wants to see us in those times. It’s okay to be human. I signed up for her Monday morning newsletter and I smile every time it hits my inbox because it is often exactly the message I need to hear. We’ve never met, but if we ever did I think I would want to give her a great big hug or at least say thank you. I’ve written back a few times to do so, but never know if it ever reaches her inbox or her desk.

I’ve changed the way I pray because I was given the green light to be myself. My conversations happen more frequently and I feel more comfortable seeking guidance and answers from the universe or God (whatever you may believe in). I find peace during times of meditation, those quiet moments, times of surrender. I don’t count myself as religious, but I am spiritual. I’ve written prayers. One of them is here.

“Father, speak to my soul. Fill me, because I’m empty, teach me, send words of comfort. Renew me, my heart. Show me love. Help me not to rely on my own. Help me to see the possible in the impossible. ” 

I wrote a poem for someone a few years back. It was to let them see that they mattered more to me because of who they were on the inside.

“The things I love about you aren’t visible with the eye. They are felt, in the very actions that you take each day. 
It isn’t the glitter and gold dust of your world that impresses me. It is the depth of your heart, the footprint that you leave behind.
What you create is lovely. But it is your truths, your vision and your passion that are even more beautiful to me.”

Much like Ruth, I embraced all of them. While nothing ever came of it, I learned to love like that. That is the work that someone higher did in me. That is how I’ve grown through prayer. It changed me. It changed my perspective.

The words “Thoughts and Prayers” means something to me. When I say I’ll pray for you, I’ll pray for your heart, for understanding, for your purpose.

I don’t let that phrase ring empty. I’m a woman who means it.