Just this morning I was in the doctor’s office as a two-week follow-up to my surgery. The nurse who took my vitals was wearing one of those stretchy-charm bracelets – the kind with the small pictures and icons on them.
On this particular bracelet there were a few icons of saints and one which appeared to be Coptic Pope Shenouda. I asked the nurse and she told me that it happened to be the pope before Shenouda. On her small desk there were a few other icons as well as a Coptic cross, enough items to spark a conversation between the two of us about faith. I explained that I was a priest of the Armenian Church, to demystify the puzzle of how I knew a bit about her church. I mentioned that I had the privilege of meeting His Holiness several years ago (see http://inhisshoes.org/coptic-churcharmenian-miuron/) and she, in turn, shared the story of meeting the pope pictured on her bracelet.
It was His Holiness Pope Kyrillos, of blessed memory, who had inspired an awe in her, not only with his presence but with a few words which she shared with me this morning. She embraced this message as if it were her personal mantra, never tiring to repeat it and complete sold on it power. In fact, when she shared these words of Pope Kyrillos, I found them to be so profound and deep that they gave me a chance to stop, mid-blood pressure check, take the pen from my pocket and write them down. The message was so simple that I feared I might get lost amidst the clutter of my physical testing this morning. The words of Pope were quite simple. “Praying solves all my problems,” he had proclaimed to her and the audience on that day four decades ago. Praying solves all of my problems! Did I mention it was a simple message? Did I say that it was profound?
This is the bottom line. We complicate matters too much. Praying solves all of my problems. These words hit me so unexpectedly. You wait for a pope to utter some deep answer to mystery or a major pronouncement of faith. And then you get something that is so profound that it gives you cause to stop and apply it to your life. Praying solves all of my problems.
As I have found in my life, our prayer life is so important. Praying does solve all of our problems – not some, but all. But, it has to do with our ability to make that prayer a real one. It has to do with our ability to connect into the prayer. Note: it is not the inanimate “prayer” that solves our problems, but the verb “praying” – our interaction with the prayer! Because prayer can become superficial if we recite it. But if we live it, we engage with the Divine. Praying gives mere words meaning and they turn into a prayer. Look at one of the simplest prayer that we learn from Jesus, up on the cross he prays, “Father, forgive them.” What a prayer! Think of it. Just three words and yet each of those words are loaded. “Father.” “Forgive.” “Them.” Each word invites a meditation. Each word invites us to engage with the divinity within us. Imagine if we could make these three words into a meaningful prayer in our life!
Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. These are the prayers that keep us alive when refuse to recite and instead take a moment to truly pray. These are the words that keep us human. They keep us moving forward.
And so, this morning, the pronouncement made by this pope, remembered by this nurse, shared with me two weeks after my surgery, while I’m thinking of physical mortality and spiritual immortality, now offered me a moment to understand my humanity and how I engage with the divine. It was a very profound moment of understanding and clarity for me. It’s what we discuss in this exercise we call Armodoxy. It’s about making Faith real in our life.
God, Jesus Christ, prayer, Holy Spirit, Etchmiadzin, it’s all about making these words real in our lives. Prayer is not a collection of words. They have meaning. They have function. Praying makes our life real. It makes it whole. It makes it complete. Praying solves all of my problems.
Prayer/praying. As we kick-off the fourth year of Next Step Podcasts, it’s an appropriate tie in to all that we do. We’re committed to this ministry which we dare call Armodoxy. It’s a living tradition that engages us with the Divine. We give thanks for this opportunity.
Entire message: http://www.epostle.net/archives_season7.html#159