Spiritual Practice

Prayer: The Secret of Life

Sally Chambers

devozine Reflective Guy FTR TS 80467216When asked, “What is the secret of life?” Mother Teresa answered, “Prayer.” When I heard this, I was puzzled. Seriously? Prayer: the secret of life? For me, prayer consisted of a list of names in a notebook and words or phrases offered in need and in thanksgiving. Prayer was an activity of the mind—thoughts and words spoken to God. But the secret of life? I must be missing something.

From Head to Heart

I began a journey to uncover the secret of prayer—and apparently life. As I did, my prayers began to move from my head to my heart. I was figuring out that words helped to form our prayers, but words were only the tip of the iceberg. Prayer was deeper and richer under the surface.

Into God’s Presence

Praying at Beach2 TS 86491196Gradually, prayer became more of a place than an activity. I began to experience prayer as a way of sitting with God, of being in God’s presence. For me, prayer was like stepping into a hot tub where I could rest and relax.

Eugene Peterson once said, “When we pray, we immerse ourselves in the living presence of God.” I created a space in my room, with a chair, a candle, and a cross. I could step into this space to pray, as if I were stepping into the presence of God. Before I formulated any words to speak or to write in my journal, I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and imagined turning my heart toward God.

Living in HD

Turning toward God in prayer transformed not only my praying but also my living. I began to use a new metaphor when I thought about prayer. TV programming is always playing, whether or not we have the TV on. In the same way, God is always speaking and always present. Prayer enables us to tune in to what God is saying and where God is playing. Maybe Mother Teresa was onto something. Maybe prayer enables us to be open to fully living because prayer opens us to God, the source of life.

Bike Ride at sunset FTR TS 93167366St. Thérèse of Lisieux said, “Prayer, for me, is simply a raising of the heart, a simple glance towards Heaven, an expression of love.” I began to realize that no matter what else I was doing, I could also be praying. If I were tossing a Frisbee, walking among the azaleas, being quiet, reading, writing, drawing, sharing a meal, enjoying conversation over coffee, or driving to work, I also could be praying if my heart were turned toward God. I wrote on sticky notes the phrase “for the love of God” and posted the notes in my car, on my computer, beside my makeup. I spoke the words as I drove, typed, and got ready in the morning.

Brother Lawrence called bringing God into every aspect of our lives “practicing the presence of God.” Others call it prayer. I call it living life in high definition.



Try these ways of praying:

  • Body Prayer FTR TSP 149451254Set an alarm on your phone to go off at the same time every day. Wherever you are when it goes off, stop, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and notice the sounds and smells of the world around you. Just be in the presence of God.
  • Choose one activity in your day (brushing your teeth, doing your homework, cleaning your room, playing with your siblings) and be intentional about doing it “for the love of God.” The more you practice the presence of God, inviting God to be part of everything you do, the more your life will become your prayer.
Sally Chambers is uncovering more about the secret of life as she lives in HD in Nashville, Tennessee.

—from devozine (November/December 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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