Prayer as Looking Within

Prayer, for many, is a means of projecting one’s thoughts outward— toward the heavens, toward the holy, toward something Other. We rush to say things to this Other in prayer–we spill words to God, to others, or to ourselves. We find comfort in hearing our own voices, in viewing prayer as a means of communication and conversation.

However, in this season of my life, I find myself resting on two premises regarding prayer: first, that prayer is a means of looking inward and second, that this movement to the center of myself is made possible through silence.

The daily reality I experience hinges upon the way I see myself and the way I see the world. On the days when I feel rooted in the ground of being– that is to say– those days when I have been silent and still enough to know that I am deeply loved, fiercely sought after, and uniquely part of a grander story– it is on these days of self-awareness that I am able to experience a reality that is rooted in joy, peace, and general “aliveness”. This is what I mean when I say prayer is a means of looking inward– and therefore finding God. For prayer lets us know who we already are and indeed always have been.

Prayer is a means of turning inward in silence, of trusting ourselves– our intuition, our instincts, our insights. It’s when spirit links up with Spirit, presence with Presence. The girl who enters into prayer feeling lost and afraid, guilty or unhinged– she leaves prayer feeling found and assured, redeemed and rooted.

Many people believe the world is moving toward some greater end– whether it be the universe toward further complexity, the human mind toward further self-awareness, or even the past mistakes of history toward some redemptive end. As a Christian, I believe this movement is the gradual unfolding of heaven on earth. If prayer is a connection with the divine that leaves me changed as a result– might all of our thoughts, requests, tears, and praise– might all of this eventually be holy in the kingdom of heaven? This truth leads me to a further recognition: that there really is no such thing as a time when I pray and a time when I don’t pray– only a time when I am aware of my connection with God and those times when I am unfortunately unaware.

So may we be fully aware! May we turn inward to find what is wholly Other, toward our own humanness to find what is sacred and divine. For if God is to speak at all, He surely must speak within us.

Liz VandeMoortel is a contributor and podcast co-host at, but she spends most of her time telling her two year old to stop stealing candy from the pantry.  She blogs regularly at in an attempt to recognize and name the holy things around her.  You can follow her on Twitter @lizvandemo

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