Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, December 1, 2018
Prayer, with Open Hands
If ever I have wanted to learn to pray, Father Nouwen is an excellent teacher. His insights, his words, his example—all can lead me towards a warm, vibrant prayer life.
Take, for example, his latest definition of prayer. “Above all, prayer is a way of life which allows you to find a stillness in the midst of the world where you open your hands to God’s promises and find hope for yourself, your neighbor, and your world.” 
This reminds me so much of Fred Rogers. He, too, was a deeply spiritual man. Also an ordained minister, he was always striving to find ways to be more loving and open to his neighbors—which were everyone he met.
This makes me think. And I mean, really think. Do I open my hands to God’s promises? Do I find hope in God for myself, much less my neighbor or my world? Perhaps, if my neighbor closely resembles me. But, what if my neighbor does not look like me? What if they look different? Or speak a different language? Or wear different clothing? What if they were born halfway across the world? What then?
I truly do not think that mattered to Father Nouwen, and I don’t think that mattered to Fred Rogers, either.
“Praying pervades every aspect of our lives. It is the unceasing recognition that God is wherever we are, always inviting us to come closer and to celebrate the divine gift of being alive.” 
I want to learn to pray more deeply, and more freely. I’m reminded of the old joke from New York City—“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice.” I know I have been in the schools of prayer for many years, but I still feel like a rank amateur. My prayer life ebbs and flows, and I feel more and less discouraged, accordingly. (So, I suppose I must feel encouraged sometimes. Apparently not right now, though.)
As I come to the end of this small book, I pray that I may take these lessons to heart.
Dear Lord, thank You for sincere, genuine people of faith like Father Nouwen and Mister Rogers. May I take them as examples for me—for my thoughts, speech and actions. May I find joy in You and in Your presence. And, may I lead others into Your joy, to experience your love, mercy and rest. Amen.
Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.
 With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 121.
 Ibid, 122.