The Prayer Corner

“God works with the world as it is in order to bring it
to where it can be.
Prayer changes the way the world is,
and therefore changes what the world can be.
Prayer opens the world to its own transformation.”

–Marjorie Suchocki

Prayer has always fascinated and frustrated me. The scientist in me has often longed for more concrete information about how prayer works and what my role is.

Reading theologian Marjorie Suchocki’s book In God’s Presence transformed my prayer practice because it offered a way of thinking about how prayer—even the littlest of prayers—could impact the world. While no theory of prayer can possibly capture the full reality, her description helped me envision prayer as something tangible, a practice which invited my participation.

She describes prayer as adding something new and unexpected into the cosmos, creative material that God uses to mold and craft this current world into the redeemed reality of his Kingdom. When we pray, that prayer is something new, something that wasn’t there the moment before. The act of praying opens us (and the whole world) to transformation in ways beyond our imagining.

What’s even more amazing is that God has called us into partnership with him through the gift of prayer. The Holy Spirit, according to Paul in his letter to the Romans, prays in us, showing us God’s heart, his vision for the world as it can be. We pray in response to the Holy Spirit’s nudging and the world is changed, moved that much closer to the full realization of the Kingdom.

But what does this mean for us in everyday, ordinary life, where the cosmos is the dishes in the sink, work (or lack of work), the to-do list, busy schedules, all the while wanting to be faithful and hope-full?

If you’re feeling a nudge to the practice of prayer, or to go deeper, sometimes it’s hard to find a place to start, or to start anew, so the practice for this month is exactly that: create a small place in your home for prayer. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, this visible spot is called the Beautiful Corner.

This space could be simply a bible, an icon, a cross, or some other visual call to prayer. Icons have been used for nearly two thousand years as reminders of the spiritual reality behind our everyday lives. I find photos of loved ones make wonderful prayer prompts.

If you have kiddos, let them help decorate it with things meaningful for them.

It could become a place to stop on the way out the door to work, a place to take a break in the midst of the to-do list, or a place to say good-night, recollecting the presence of God throughout the day.

Simple or elaborate, a prayer corner doesn’t add anything to our schedules, it just gives prayer a more visible place in our daily lives. Seeing the corner day after day can gently capture our attention and call our hearts to prayer.

It only takes a moment, and the world is changed.

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(The Prayer Corner was also printed in this month’s Bethany Briefs.)