The start of New Year’s Day began in an unplanned way for me. I couldn’t find the book I had anticipated reading with my morning coffee so I just picked up the next book in my “Read-This-Next-Pile.” It was Sightings: Extraordinary Encounters with Ordinary Birds. Obviously I expected that book to be about birds but it was far, far more for it was a series of meditations. By the time I had read the short introduction and first brief chapter, I knew it was a gift for beginning the New Year. It transformed my first waking prayer, “Thank you Lord for the gift of this day,” to “Thank you Lord for the gift of this year.” And that was a totally unexpected way to begin a year that I dreaded because of the pall of fear that permeates the very air we are breathing now in these United States.
That pall of fear was the reason for the admonition in my last column to pray fearlessly, live fearlessly, and give fearlessly. “Right,” I hear you saying as you read that, “and just what does it mean to pray fearlessly?”
Well, praying is a form of communication with God and praying fearlessly is a way of expressing thanks for God’s presence in every situation, as well as expressing concern for the individuals involved and the specifics of each situation of concern. Let me be very clear about this. It does not mean you thank God for a terrible situation; it does mean that you thank God for the things that make that situation bearable.
It is a type of prayer for expanding your faith and understanding by looking beyond the obvious. Pick a number: 5 will do, but 3 is a good one to start with. As you concentrate on each individual or situation of concern, search your mind and heart until you can find 3 things to thank God for associated with that individual or that situation. Then formulate 3 ways to express your concerns for the same individual or situation.
What you will find as time goes on is that praying fearlessly by thanking God for the good aspects of a person or situation and then petitioning God’s intervention and assistance with those same individuals and situations reduces our anxiety levels and opens our minds to ways we can work to make a difference in the world.
We cannot change everything, but praying fearlessly can change our own attitudes and defuse our fears. It is a big first step toward living fearlessly and giving fearlessly.
Please join me in this endeavor.