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The Practice of Prayer, part 1: Keeping Faith

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12

Many of us who spend time on this site feel called to live off the grid, literally and metaphorically: to detach ourselves from some of the comforts and assumptions of our culture, to learn to do more for ourselves, our families and our neighbors. This requires courage and a wide variety of skills. If it is to be done rightly, it also requires us to be rooted in prayer.

Prayer gives us guidance. In living off the grid we step back from some widely held ideas about what really matters in life. This can bring us closer to the truth, freeing us from our society’s blind spots.  It can also leave us at the mercy of our own blind spots. When we wait on God in prayer we open ourselves to the truths that may not come naturally to us.

Prayer dissolves self-righteousness.  As we try to live faithfully in a way that can be challenging and unpopular, it’s tempting to take refuge in a sense of our own purity and superiority to ‘the herd’. But when we stand alone before God in prayer we begin to see ourselves with God’s eyes. We see our faults with unsparing clarity. We also know God’s love and strength which allow us to heal these faults.

Prayer holds us in communion. Off-grid life brings many blessings, but it can also bring loneliness. In prayer we can lift those people who’ve made very different choices up to God, asking not that they be made to agree with us but that they hear God’s voice and grow into the people God made them to be. We may also become aware that some of those people are holding us up in prayer. Most importantly, in prayer we remember our union with God and in God, in whom we all are one.

Prayer, like the other disciplines of off-grid life, requires faithfulness on our part. If we are to experience its blessings, we need to make time and space for it, over and over again, whether or not we feel as though we are getting anywhere, whether or not we feel comforted or inspired. The practice of prayer keeps us constantly aware of what matters most to us, and opens our eyes so that we can recognize grace when it comes.

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