Why “Sophia” is My Favorite Word for Praying

One of the great pleasures of the past year has been getting to know Micha Boyett (a.k.a. “Mama Monk”), a writer, poet, and fellow blogger on Patheos. Micha has a series of guest posts titled “One Good Phrase,” in which she invites writers to explain a particular word or phrase that has power in their faith lives. I contributed a post on the word “Sophia”— the Greek word for the wisdom of God. My post begins:

“Sophia” has become a popular girl’s name (the most popular girl’s name in 2012, in fact). But for me, it is the one word that leads me to authentic prayer.

I have always struggled with prayer, and do not have a regular daily practice. Instead, I have cobbled together an irregular prayer life using a variety of tools. I have a habit of active gratitude, offering frequent thanksgivings throughout the day. I get comfort and a sense of community by using prayers that others have written, in such resources as the Book of Common Prayer and Phyllis Tickle’s Divine Hours series. And when all else fails—when the words for thanksgiving or intercession don’t come, when the written prayers feel empty and rote rather than rich with shared history—I turn to my one word, “Sophia.”

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About Ellen Painter Dollar

Ellen Painter Dollar is a writer focusing on faith, parenting, family, disability, and ethics. She is the author of No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Faith, and Parenthood in an Age of Advanced Reproduction (Westminster John Knox, 2012). Visit her web site at http://ellenpainterdollar.com for more on her writing and speaking, and to sign up for a (very) occasional email newsletter.

  • Tonia (studyinbrown.com)

    This was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing it. I, too, have often found myself praying in this way through hard times.

  • Dave Parker

    What Tonia said.

    I’m just commenting to let you know that that’s the kind of post I usually wouldn’t comment on because it says everything. I’m going to give “centering prayer” a try when I feel I’m in a situation where a little meditation might be better than an immediate reaction.

    The tricky part is, figuring out a word to use. I can’t use Sophia, because if I accidentally started repeating it out loud my wife might kill me. :)