When I was a child, a good-night prayer was the last detail of the day. I’d lay down in bed and my mother would tuck me in and we would say THE prayer together. She would begin, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep . . .”  I’m sure I’m not the only child who was raised on those good words or who felt the same way about those words. I would join her in the prayer and then drift away . . .

I am no longer that child, but I am still a person who is anchored by faith and who believes in the importance of prayer and meditation. The big difference might be that I no longer believe that prayer is something reserved only for the end of the day. In the challenges of a world beset by a pandemic and limited by sheltering in place and working from home, I find myself in a constant state of either talking to God or listening for God’s voice. As Mother Teresa once said, “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”

In the context of being a known in my community as one who meditates, I regularly get questions from people who struggle with one or both of these things: prayer and meditation. Sometimes the struggle grows from a sense of not feeling worthy. For others, the struggle with meditation is not feeling capable of a dedicated stillness. What’s surprising to me is that those who turn to me for insight are persons I usually view as more capable of prayer than I am. My initial thought in response is almost always: why can’t you see yourself the way that I do, or even the way that I believe God sees you?

As we enter into a new year, it is a more important than ever to find that place where the voice of God rings loud and true. For me, it is through prayer and meditation that I am able to still my mind, quiet my anxious heart, center in the place where faith is pre-eminent and where God’s presence in undeniable.

The year 2021 might see us finally put the pandemic behind us, or perhaps not. We don’t know for sure. What we do know is that there will be something to come. Some change. Some challenge. In the moment of imagining, where will you turn? I will be thinking about my mom and that wonderful prayer we shared at the end of each day. I will be thinking about the loving presence of God who comes to us in the stillness of meditation, the action of prayer, the place of both heart and mind.

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David Barnes

serves as the Manager off Hospitality and Engagement for Calvary Presbyterian Church, San Francisco, CA.  He provides support for the church in facility management, pastoral care, and event support as well as supporting other lay leadership groups such as church Elders or Deacons.  David is a member of the APCE Advocate team.