Progressive Prayer

Apr 4, 2013

When I was a kid, progressive dinners were a social fad. A progressive dinner moved from house to house–appetizers at one house, salad at another, main course at still another, and dessert at a final location. The guests might be all the same people just moving around together to a different host house. Another model was to be with different people at each location–a kind of mixer or getting-to-know-you event. In each case, the dinner progressed throughout the evening to a different venue with different decor, dishes, atmosphere, and conversation.

I thought of the progressive dinner concept when I was praying for my friend Randall who is in a long recovery from a brutal surgical procedure. A vast cloud of witnesses pray for Randall constantly. When I keep an ongoing prayer vigil for a person, my prayers “progress.” That doesn’t mean they get better; they just move and morph. The places I pray, the time of day, the mood I’m in…all affect the way I pray.

This prayer started out unexpectedly in the middle of my morning writing with a black pen in hand. A couple of days later, my journal fell open to the same page and I was nudged to add to the prayer—color this time. Words worked their way onto the page at a later date. A new iteration may still emerge from this particular drawing. With a progressive prayer as with a progressive dinner, a new time and venue enhance and enrich the conversation. I hope this ongoing prayer is about listening and softening my heart, about being attentive to God’s new and ongoing care and healing in Randall’s life and in mine.