by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.
My very favorite place to pray is by the ocean.
I’ve sat for hours by the seaside enraptured by the vastness and infinity of the broad view. There’s something about the wideness of the sea and the constancy of the rolling waves that makes my soul sigh in contentment and quiets my mind in peaceful reflection. I love the way I feel when I vacation by the ocean and have often thought, “How can I take this peaceful feeling home with me? How can I go back home and find freedom from the stress of life’s chores and responsibilities?”
Recently, it occurred to me that Christ Jesus provided the answer to these questions with his direction — “Enter into thy closet.”
In giving helpful instruction on how to pray, he said, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
I do love to pray when sitting on the seashore. It’s like my “closet.” I shut my eyes, not thinking about any troubles, fears or concerns. With each breath I take, I feel wrapped in God’s love. I hear the thunderous roar of waves crashing, but at the same time I feel the rhythmic and peaceful pattern of the waves rolling in.
I’m reminded of the biblical account of Christ Jesus calming the winds and waves when he and his disciples were on a ship caught in a storm at sea. As I sit on the shore, I feel as if Christ Jesus is speaking to my worries and proclaiming, “Peace, be still.” It’s as if a thought whispers to me, “You are safe. You are not alone. You are whole. All is well.”
I open my eyes once again to the vastness of the scene before me. Whatever problem, fear or concern that has been troubling me now seems very small, like a single grain of sand under my feet. There is clarity, and there is calm.
I don’t think the healing power of this prayer requires sitting by the sea. We can follow Christ Jesus’ prayer instructions wherever we are — whether we are at work, sitting in a hospital waiting area, standing in line at the grocery store, or are stuck in our car in a traffic jam. We can enter into our closet, that quiet realm of our consciousness that knows God’s presence and love is with us and is as constant as the rolling waves and as infinite as the inexhaustible waters of the sea. We talk with God and hear the healing words needed in that moment. And there is clarity, there is calm — there is peace.
Sometimes I have hours to spend in my prayer closet. Other times I have only moments to find the healing answer needed.
Many times in the past when sitting at my desk working on a deadline, I have been overwhelmed with a feeling of pressure, and I’ve been fearful that I couldn’t get the task accomplished when needed. I would become a clock-watcher. In fact, the more I looked at the clock, the slower ideas flowed that were needed to complete the project.
I found the best way to overcome pressure was to enter into my prayer closet. Moments of stillness and quiet reflection of God’s presence and “allness” were all that was needed. Soon pressure disappeared and was replaced with calm inspiration. Then, the needed ideas came into expression, and the project was completed on schedule. This has happened again and again.
Following the insightful prayer instruction from Christ Jesus puts on “pause” whatever is troubling or challenging us. Then, we’re reminded that Love, the Love that is God, is always with us. Peace and healing answers are found when our thought is calmed. We can all feel the healing peace of God wherever we are and in every situation.
Yes, my very favorite place to pray is by the ocean. But I’m learning to pray anywhere at anytime.