I walked the labyrinth at 6:30 am Wednesday morning. I had decided the day before to receive the morning at the Bread of Life as an extra helping hand at the center’s weekly food distribution to city residents who need fresh free produce and other items. The party gets started around 8:30 am, so it meant an early start.

On the ride to the Bread of Life, I decided to pop in the Brother Henry cd “God is Alive.” Their music kept entering into my words of prayer to God as I walked the labyrinth, so I took it as a sign of God inviting me to allow their music to shape my prayers throughout the day.

I decided to play “Learn How to Pray” and “Take My Hands” over and over again. I played “Take My Hands” first, and then ended up putting “Learn How to Pray” on repeat.

“… Oh my Lord, have mercy on a sinner. Oh my God, open up my heart, teach me how to love.

…Oh my Lord, have mercy on a sinner. Oh my god, open up my heart, teach me how to pray.

Oh my Lord, have mercy on a sinner. Oh my God, open up my heart, teach me to forgive….”

These words lingered throughout my morning at the Bread of Life, my afternoon in conversation & reflection with Rudy and evening Bible study with 40 other young adults seeking to know and experience God. We closed the Bible study by joining hands and sharing with each other prayers of thanksgiving and concern.

I looked around as people from all walks of life…students, authors, artists, unemployed workers, restored criminals, young business men & women, tired wounded souls, persons living on the street and people with homes…laid down burdens before the community and lifted up all of the good things God had gifted them with over the week.

As the pastor prayed, I was in total awe of the day God had created and the thread of prayer that had sown each moment together into a warm shawl that was now covering me.

Peace.

“Oh Lord, have mercy on a sinner…. I want to learn how to pray so I can be with God.”

Fast forward to Saturday morning. I found myself up once again in the early a.m. to head to the St. John’s site on the southwest side of Houston to join other Christians in a time of prayer.  All along the 610, church groups from all over stood and offered up common prayers through words & songs for the city of Houston. We all had our booklets with written prayers and the words to the songs we would sing.

It was the first time I had ever experienced something like this. I was surprised by how easily I entered into the experience, offering prayers for Houston and Nashville :). Watching as cars drove by, seeking for God to meet each person where they needed to be met by love each and every day.

I cannot lie, there were some awkward moments where I found myself laughing out loud and not quite sure what to do next, but I decided to allow myself to be in those moments instead of fighting the laughter.  God did not mind my laughter and joy in the offering, so why should I.

After prayer, which composed two of the best received hours (and actually there have been MANY!) of my week, I headed to breakfast with 5 other strong, beautiful, faithful, intelligent, LOVING, creative, joy-filled and praying women.  Once we had all ordered and sat down at our patio table, Juanita invited everyone into a time of silent prayer. She asked them to still their souls and seek to hear words God wanted them to share with me.

I sat with tear-filled eyes, as women who did not know my story (one hugged me this morning during worship saying, “I had no idea you were not local. Let me hug you before you leave us.”), spoke words to conversations I had been having with God throughout the week in the labyrinth.

I want to learn how to pray so I can see what matters.

I want to learn how to pray give thanks for everything.

I want to learn how to pray one day I will be shattered.

I want to learn how to pray when my heart’s too hurt to sing.”

They blessed my heart through their offering of love and the moments of joy we shared. I learned once again how to pray… to listen, meditate and receive. We laughed lots, shared stories, gave testimony to what God had done & was doing in our lives, laughed some more, cried, shared our dreams, cried some more and laughed some more.

I did not say much. I sat with a hug smile on my face and a soul that was continuing to slowly open up, taking in the joy of the moment and listening to these beautiful women welcome me into their lives. I sat back many times thinking, “Lord, who am I that you would be so mindful of me? Who am I?”

As we said our good-byes and I got into the car I softly whispered these words, “Thank you Lord  for the Joy Love Circle you brought me into this day. Teach me how to welcome others in and experience this kind of joy and love on the regular.”

It’s all such good stuff.

 

Joy Love Circle for this Particular Day

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