Answer your own prayers: Pray in present tense

Some years ago I read a valuable piece of advice: frame your prayers in the present tense.

You wouldn`t believe the difference it makes.

Six years ago doctors diagnosed my friend, Lynn, with terminal cancer. She was 41 years old with two young children. The news shocked her, and her family and friends. Prayers bubbled up from all of us, because in circumstances like that, prayers just happen. They can`t be helped.

My first prayer was for Lynn to live. Then, when I read the present tense advice, the prayer changed to “Lynn lives.” With a shock I realized that my prayer was already answered! No matter what happened the next week, or the next month, or the next year, at that moment, Lynn lived. My prayer changed from a plea of desperation to a celebration of gratitude, a “seize the day” motivational expression of wow. It took me out of the victim role, passively waiting for an outside force to act, and put me in the active role of celebrant. It encouraged me to savour every moment with my friend.

So many prayers come out of on-our-knees times of desperation. “Powers that be, please give me the strength to get through this,” we pray. But if we change that to “I have the strength to get through this,” instead of feeling helpless and overwhelmed, suddenly the strength we seek infuses us, and we rise from our knees renewed.

Now, I can hear the shouts of protest now. Critics will say, “Lady, you are crazy. What if I don’t have a job but desperately need one? If I say, ‘I have a job,’ I don’t suddenly and miraculously have a job.” True. But, maybe if you say, “I have a job” you will go to your next job interview with calm assurance instead of discouraged desperation. Maybe that will help.

Or someone else might say, “What if I want a red Porsche? If I close my eyes and say, ‘I have a red Porsche,’ when I open my eyes, there won’t be a shiny car in my driveway.” True, but if you say, “I have a red Porsche” over and over again often enough, maybe it will motivate you to start setting the money aside in a special fund. Maybe you’ll start browsing used car sites until you find the right one. Maybe it will help.

If you pray in the present tense, you might be surprised how often you answer your own prayers. The present tense:

  • opens our eyes to the gifts of the moment
  • infuses us with strength we didn’t know we had
  • relieves our stress and desperation and fills us with calm assurance
  • motivates us to work toward a goal.

A year ago yesterday my friend, Lynn, passed away. I grieved, for sure, because I missed my friend. I watched two teenagers lose a parent. I watched her husband lose a spouse and become a father/mother overnight. It was hard. But it was just that titch better because I had spent the previous five years celebrating her life in present tense every single day.

rainbow

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About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on March 19, 2013, in good faith, Gratitude, Inspiration, Living life to the fullest, progressive christianity, religion, spirit and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Very powerful message, thanks Arlene. Can I print it for my bible study group?

  2. I loved your post, Arlene.
    Thank you for reminding me that our prayers are already answered! When I read your blog – all I could think of was ‘acceptance’ and ‘allowing’ leading to serenity. Thanks again for the reminder,
    Kit

  3. Hi Kit, thanks for visiting my blog. Yes! We do open up to acceptance and allowing when we live – and pray – in the present tense. Then, paradoxically, that helps us move forward. Hmmmmm . . .

  4. Very powerful stuff, I will try to remember to stay in the NOW.

    and “just a titch” … haven’t heard that since I was a kid 🙂
    MJ

    • Thanks.
      And yeah, I hesitated about using the word titch. (Who knows how it’s really spelled? It’s not in the dictionary.)But it’s what I wanted to say, so I went with it. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing.

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