Prayer isn’t a child delivering their Christmas wish list to God. Prayer is opening our souls, centering our lives, calming our spirits so we might experience the presence of God: the Holy Spirit.

God doesn’t give us what we ask for when we pray; rather God comes to be with us. That is why prayer takes practice and persistence. It is not that we need to persuade God, but that we need to attune our souls to God’s presence with us.

Leonard Sweet is one of my favorite teachers. He wrote in his book Faithquakes:

My favorite image of prayer is having a tuning fork in one hand and a pitchfork in the other. The pitchfork image is obvious; true prayer is not something one does with one’s lips but it is what one does with one’s life. We are called to pitch-fork the eternal into the temporal.

Prayer is also a tuning fork. Prayer is turning down the volume to the outside world and tuning into a frequency that normally goes unheard. Dr. Sweet writes:

Prayer tunes the mind, and fasting tunes the body so that ultimately our whole being resonates with the living presence of God. Soldiers throughout history, when they march across a bridge, break step. They learned from experience that their marching cadence gives off a frequency that, in rare instances, matches the frequency of the bridge. When that happens there is a state of resonance. This resonance, or sympathetic vibrations, can literally cause the bridge to collapse.

In 1972 there was a commercial for Memorex that featured Ella Fitzgerald. When a singer modulates her voice so her frequency matches the frequency with which the molecules of a glass are vibrating, the glass can literally explode. Resonance can be an explosion of energy, a vibrating, pulsating synchronization that causes something to explode, or at least rattle.

That is precisely what happens in genuine prayer. Prayer is persistently attuning our very souls to the frequency of the Holy Spirit until resonance occurs. Prayer is not spiritual magic; rather, it is synchronizing our heartbeat with the heartbeat of God. When we do that something changes. Usually it is us.

by Michael Piazza
Co-Executive Director
The Center for Progressive Renewal

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