An excerpt from Beyond Words

- Doing Prayer

Kristen Johnson Ingram

author of Beyond Words: 15 Ways of Doing Prayer

What does it mean to "do prayer"?
Words are important; God spoke the universe into being, and taught the generations how to pray. But sometimes our movement toward God is a song or dance or working in a garden. What makes a difference are intention and consecration. "Intentional" means you decide beforehand that what you’re going to do is prayer, and "consecrated" implies that you will commit a sacred act dedicated to God.

Why is this book particularly timely for today? Are we praying in different ways than we have before?
I don't know whether people are praying differently, but I do know they're expressing a need for a deeper relationship with God. When they find ways to do their prayers, they may realize how much love God is sending down, and how we return that love in small, consecrated acts.

Intentionality figures strongly in your message about prayers. Do you think that anything can be a prayer if we are intentional about offering it up to God?

I am not sure what "anything" means. You can't consecrate sin or crime and call it prayer, but I think you can ask God to accept as an offering any creative activity. When I was seriously ill, I asked God to make my pain an out-of-the-depths psalm. And who could ever walk through woods without a silent thanksgiving for beauty? Touching the leaves of a tree can be prayer when your heart is full of thanks.

How would you describe the person who might grow spiritually from reading your book?
I would hope that every reader would experience a spiritual benefit from the book. Maybe anyone creative or artistic might get a blessing.

Has writing this book affected the way you pray?
The converse was originally true: The way I pray affected my book. But any kind of prayer, spoken or done, moves me toward God. During the writing of this book I felt the presence of Christ in a new and deeper way.

Is there anything else you would like to add about "doing prayer"?
God is good. Even now, when my grandson has acute leukemia without a marrow donor in sight, I can't deny God's love when I move through my day of prayers. I think God is dangerous and irresistible, and in my acts of prayer, I hurl myself at God's heart.

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