My name is Kelly Saunders and I made my VdC weekend #60 where I sat at the table of Miriam. I have the pleasure of being our new 4th day coordinator and wanted to send out a 4th day letter since we have not been able to meet over the past few months. I wanted to share something encouraging that each one of us is capable of implementing during these challenging times. It builds off the VdC foundation of piety, study & action and is essential on our 4th day journeys; prayer.
Each Via de Cristo weekend we have the honor of serving our Lord & Savior in new ways and are fortunate to create new memories, new understandings and are showered with an abundance of love & joy (oh, and a few extra pounds too!). This past weekend that I served was just the same but I wanted to share with you the profound nugget that I took away. I discovered in myself that I tend to flee when it's prayer time. Now, if asked, like a good Christian, I will gladly jump in and support prayer time but during open prayers or even praying over Rollistas I find myself pulling away and not stepping boldly into this role. I can only assume that it's the fear of not saying enough, saying too much, forgetting the words I wanted to use, not having big enough words to spout out or or even having the eloquent wording that others can so freely voice like a beautiful song. Or maybe, it is the fact that sometime I sounds like I have marbles in my mouth and only our loving Father in heaven can figure out just what it is I am trying to say! Whatever it may be, I know this is a weak spot in my faith journey and it's something I need to strengthen. Ironically about one month after this weekend the topic of prayer came up in my reunion group. We all discussed how easy it is to fall into this rut and run away from open prayer instead of building up our prayer lives. We decided to put this in the forefront over the next month and to be really present and intentional with our prayers for others; I think the term is 'praying in the moment'. At first I was really not interested in doing this and I started off in my usual sloth-like manner. I thought, I'll just sit back and see what happens. I'll do the motions but not really seek the moments out. That God of ours, well he's got a sense of humor and always likes to watch us grow. It only took three days when God called me into action! I was at work and noticed a lady in front of me walking slowly in the rain. Her pace was so slow and our journey ahead so long all I could think was how wet she would be before she arrived at her car. I offered to share my umbrella with her during our journey and we walked (ever so slowly) to her car. She shared with me that she had just returned to work after knee surgery. Here it was, right in front of me, it couldn't have been easier and my mind was racing should I or shouldn't I? After all this is where I work and I don't even know if she is Christian. Oh and by the way it's wet & cold and I'm sure she was tired from this long walk....
so I just blurted out 'well drive safe and I'll pray for you for a speedy recovery'. It was a long walk from her car to mine and all I could do was replay my cowardly response and shake my head in disappointment, What an amazing opportunity from God and I botched it! About a week later I was at my desk and the phone rang. It was a colleague that I didn't particularly know well calling to let our manager know she would not be able to make it into the office that day. She was hysterically crying on the other end and I was totally caught off guard. My heart broke for her, I felt so helpless and not sure what to do. Somehow I blurted out 'Can I pray with you'? I don't even think I waited for a response from her, instead I just started praying right there in the middle of the office and let the Holy Spirit take over. It was such an amazing feeling that washed over me; a feeling of utter and complete release of fear, anxiety and a profound sense of peace that hung in the balance. We were quiet for a bit afterwards and then she said 'thank you that was just what I needed'. Now, I have absolutely NO recollection of what I said or if it made any sense but I know it was not me leading the prayer but the Holy Spirit, What I do remember is that beautiful peace and affirmation afterwards. If this is what it feels like when you let go and surrender to God in prayer then I want more!!! And I am excited about the next time God leads me to someone in need of prayers! I will gladly response, yes Lord it is I, I have heard you calling.
For some of us this is still a stretch and I totally get that. As I said earlier inviting people to pray out loud with me is definitely not my first reaction. But there is something profound about sharing a prayer with someone else; it's like offering the perfect present that you have hand- crafted just for them. It touches their heart so immensely. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and share this amazing gift with others. I promise you too will be blessed in return. There are many forms of praying and perhaps you just need to build up your confidence before you take this leap. If you are a more private person perhaps praying in the moment is just whispering a short prayer to yourself to help encourage someone who is struggling. We've all seen it, the presenter stumbling during their presentation, a waitress dropping a tray of food or a child searching for their next line in the school play. Just close your eyes and whisper to yourself, even if it's just one word: 'Peace', 'forgiveness', or 'discernment', whatever that person may need and God will know. Another option is to intentionally carve out time in prayer. Set aside 30 minutes a day (or every other day) to just spend time in prayer. By doing this regularly you will build up your confidence with praying and ultimately feel more equipped when God lays these opportunities in front of you.
This January, as I was cleaning up our Christmas decorations I gathered up all the cards I had received and sat with a cup of coffee to say prayers over each one. I may not know what specific concerns or celebrations they would have want lifted up but He does and He always fills in the gaps of our prayers. Another consideration is when you see a post on Facebook or receive a concerned text STOP what you are doing at that moment and actually say a prayer. It doesn't have to be a lengthy prayer just a sentence or two and God will take it from there. I encourage you to keep to a regular prayer life. Prayer is the most precious gift any one can ever give; It's totally free, but offers priceless rewards.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, please join me in being more intentional in our prayer life, be more present in each moment so we can respond to one another with 'I HAVE prayed for you' instead of 'I will pray for you'. Let's work on this until we meet in May and we can share our beautiful stories with one another then.
De Colores; God love you and SO DO I!