I had an atheist upbringing. Although my late Mother was brought up as Catholic she chose not to go to Church once she wasn’t forced to by her Mother. It’s not to say I knew nothing about religion, I did Religious studies at school and some of Mothers values passed down were Christian.
It was only during moments of distress as a child and adult I would pray desperately to God. I didn’t have the inclination and later confidence to study and participate in faith further. I have wrote previously about how I found faith.
One of the first prayers I remember making as an adult was before I run my first Marathon in 2019. I had travelled from Essex to Manchester and stayed in a hotel alone. I had never done anything like this before and needed to feel worthy. I asked God for the strength to complete the race. In previous years, I begged God to take my mental illness away. In the end I completed the race, I did it many times again by myself back home during the summer and again for two more Marathons in the Autumn. Looking back I don’t know how I did it. I was on different medication then but still it was amazing.
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:7-11
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.2 Timothy 4:7
After that prayer for my first Marathon I began praying more often but at the time I wasn’t as well acquainted as I am now to the Bible. It’s took me a few years to study from Bible Comics, to Bible commentaries, Sermons, the actual Bible and reading theology books. I am still learning. I have much to learn.
After I was homeless in a psychiatric hospital in 2022, I began to pray by myself in my room daily. At first, I was just praying for a home then I got a prayer book and would read the daily prayers from that. I then started thanking God by telling him what I am grateful for. I would often be grateful to have that bed in the hospital and not be put out on the streets. I would be thankful for having meals in the hospital and my phone. I was grateful for the people on Twitter who were a huge support to me.
Four and half months after I was discharged from the hospital to a hotel (my section ended after 6 weeks it just took a long time) I continued praying. I joined a Church. My prayers became more structured where I would thank God for all the things I am grateful for, the people that needs God’s help in my prayers and finally what I needed. In the hotel I was grateful to be able to charge my own phone and the use of a kettle in my room. I was really grateful to have much freedom after being trapped in a hospital. I would pray for the people that needed God’s help like those who use food banks and Autistic people detained in hospitals. I was still praying for a home.
Once I got a home, my prayer life is still an important daily ritual to me. I still go to Church and was baptised last May. I am grateful to have a home with a kitchen and bathroom. I am grateful to have a washing machine, microwave and armchair etc. The use of a toaster means I have incorporated toast and Jam into my prayers regularly with the Lords Prayer as well which I have wrote about in the Lord’s Supper. I have also blogged about Contemplative Prayer, a form of meditation that I have added to most afternoons recently.
Prayer isn’t just about praising God and serving him. It allows me to reflect on my life and be mindful of what is important to me and others. It helps me mindfully contemplate the present and have faith that God’s promise will come true.
[Jesus said] “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30