LUCKY GARVIN: Prayer As Divine Conversation

Lucky Garvin

I do not pray. But wait! Before you kick me out, hear me out.

As a child, I was influenced more than I knew as to the nature of prayer. I knew it to be a solemn affair begun with an honorific address; it was usually required at Thanksgiving and bedtime.

Likewise, it was a solitary affair [church and evening meals excepted]; and the prayer seemed hemmed about with a specialized vocabulary not in everyday use, i.e., ‘Thee’, “Thine”, and a lot of verbs with the suffix ‘…est’ tacked on.

In those days, I was unsure how many daily prayers were required of the pious child. I felt sure that “singing his praises all the day long” was far more likely to result in a mental health warrant for continuously “talking to myself” and likely wouldn’t help me on that future day when I stood face-to-face with St. Peter, Dean of Admissions to Heaven.

So I concluded three mumbled prayers would fulfill the requirements of piety. Why three? Dunno.

I tried it for a while, but I must confess, it felt artificial to me; more a duty than an opportunity. Then, some years ago, I heard a phrase which I shall here paraphrase:  “Beware the god who dances not and never smiles; neither does he laugh . . .”

God singing, laughing or dancing was foreign to my suppositions about the divine, but why not? Must God be constantly wreathed about with a Puritan’s solemnity?

The upshot is, I stopped praying and just started talking; anytime, anywhere, in my thoughts or aloud. Was the conversation serious? Yes, at times. I had questions to ask, screw-ups to make up for, penitentiary requests and blessings for those who might benefit [which includes just about everyone.]

Sometimes, unable to remember a fact or find an object, I asked for His help, falling back on the truism that two heads are better than one.

But, add to that the anger of my younger days. Did I rage to God? Oh, yes; and at Him. I would let him have it! And I felt no guilt at doing so; I still don’t. (A pastor friend tells me that I am in good company biblically speaking . . .)

Nowadays, my anger largely spent, we mainly just chat about this or that. [I should say, I chat; He never interrupts.] I joke with Him; I point out a beautiful bird, or congratulate Him for a breath-taking sunset. I also tease Him, much like I would a human companion.

So am I under the illusion that this means of communication – this “divine conversation” – is recommended by canon or See? Nope. It’s just the way I’ve come to do it. I feel that any form of communication with my Creator is better than silence. There’s also this to be said: it feels natural and very personal to me; and yes, sometimes it’s even fun.

All this said, I cannot help but imagine that The Creator lets loose a sigh of relief when I fall off to sleep at night. This might be the best part of His day, as it means – for an all-too-brief period of time – He will have some peace and quiet… from me, at least.

Lucky Garvin