Creative Life Foundation is a diverse place. We had a group meditation last week during which our staff lifted up prayers in 3 different languages. We are young and old(ish), transients and homebodies, single and married, Western and Eastern. We have varied economic, education, and religious backgrounds. Each have traveled vastly different paths that have brought us together here at CLF where we share many core values. One of which is the importance of prayer.
A point from our value statement reads:
We seek wisdom and guidance from God our creator who taught us how to love our neighbor, care for the poor and stand against injustice.
Is it realistic that people from such a broad spectrum of beliefs and backgrounds can pray together?
It depends on how you define prayer.
I grew up in a conservitive evangelical christian church. It was a fad at that time to teach that there was a formula for prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication (ACTS). It’s crazy to think we can put connecting with our Creator into a checklist. Jesus’ disciples were baffled by prayer when they asked Christ to teach them to pray. The apostle Paul acknowledges that we have no idea how to put our prayers into words. With all this mystery swirling about how to pray, of course I cannot depend upon a clever acrostic to formulate the perfect words to God.
I love how Walter J. Burghardt, social justice advocate and Jesuit priest, defines prayer. He suggests we sit, quiet our thoughts, open our minds to the Creator, and take a Long (focused attention, not in a hurry, present in the moment) , Loving (judgement free, with mercy, positive expectation), Look at the Real (what is True, Reality, the bigger picture). This prayer posture is one of listening and rewiring your mind so that you are aware that you are connected to the Divine Presence who is always in us and at work in our world. Prayer is not reciting a transactional wish list, but rather it’s a practice in opening our eyes to see ourselves as God sees us (our TRUE selves), the world, and our role in it.
 Luke 11
 Romans 8:26
 Learn more about this forward thinking priest https://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/21/us/21burghardt.html or https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/a-long-loving-look-at-the-real/
 This style of prayer is known as contemplative prayer. Check out this super easy youtube intro to the practice by Father Richard Rhor https://youtu.be/b0o5J0-8OA0
I asked our staff about prayer and its role in their work at the foundation.
Ball, office administrator extraordinaire, prays that God will be with him in the midst of obstacles.
He prays, “Not because it will help me not to encounter obstacles, because I will, but it gives me peace and ability to overcome the obstacles in my work- even though it was difficult or a lot of problems. And I believe that if I pray every day, I will be sharp in myself, able to overcome problems of work. Like an ax that has been sharpening for a long time. I don't need to spend a long time and use all my energy to cut a tree, Prayer is like an ax that helps me in work.” *translated from Thai
Mina runs CLF’s small business.
She works hard to make peanut butter, hummus, pesto, and more and then sells them her product at markets and restaurants throughout Bangkok. Her job is often physically tiring. She also needs to be present and able to connect with customers she meets at the market. She says that when she connects with God, she has “more physical strength to make her product and and emotional strength to talk to customers.”
Mint, outreach coordinator, also draws strength from prayer.
She writes, “Prayer has given me confidence and calms my mind. Both in life and work, prayer helps me to release bad feelings or problems. I work with women in the red light area I have to pray even more. I ask God to give me eyes and love as he would love and understand those women. In my humanity I can't understand or care for these women.*translated from Thai
Sehar, who mentors and checks in with scholarship families, finds community in praying with the foundation.
“Prayer at CLF has helped me to know each other more and about the areas of life we are struggling [in]. It has also helped me to feel more comfortable sharing things with the team. [It] makes our friendship strong.”
Tim, our executive director and founder, finds a connection between prayer and social justice.
“Since God ‘called me’ to this work, I've always called on God for direction, wisdom, and HELP. Prayer has helped me to trust that God is present in all, both good and bad. Prayer should lead us to action- ‘pray the work’ says, Mother Teresa or ‘Faith without works is dead’ - James 2. My faith background has me looking towards the example of Jesus. His life on earth continues to teach and challenge me how to love my neighbor, care for the poor and stand against injustice. It's in these times of taking risks that I feel and know God is with me.
Our differences are not are not a hindrance to our praying together. In fact, they are an added benefit. When we pause and take a Long, Loving, Look at the real with people who are different from us, our perspective of God and our world widens and deepens. We can find the strength to overcome obstacles as Ball and Mina do, see brokenness through God’s eyes as Mint does, discover comfort in community like Sehar, and be moved to action as Tim has.
Would you pray with us? Whatever path you are on, join us in seeking wisdom and guidance from God our Creator.