My First Call To Prayer

Muezzins reciting Islamic call to prayer

When I see people write or talk about their prayer experience as “a failure” because “God didn’t answer,” I wonder what they asked for.  Also, is it something personal or is it for the greater good.  It made me think a lot about my own prayer skills or lack of. Is God listening to me? My first interest in my first call to prayer was when I lived in Saudi Arabia.

My first interest in prayer

Growing up in Saudi Arabia offered many wonderful memories.  One memory I can still clearly hear decades later, and thousands of miles away is the “Call to Prayer.”  It was such a gorgeous full sound reaching out across the sands, always piquing my curiosity. The amazing “Call to Prayer” is known as Adhan, and is broadcast from minarets across cities, towns and villages five times per day.

The Muezzin calling people to prayer

At one time the callers, called muezzin (or Imam) used to go up into the minarets and call people to prayer. However, technology has taken over and the minarets are wired for sound.  The Imam can stay in his office and speak through a microphone.  The sound projects through speakers for the people to hear.  I liked the idea of the Imam up in the minaret calling the people to prayer when I lived there. If I was close to a mosque, I could see him making the call, which was really impactful.

The Muslim people are very devote at saying their prayers. It is a way to stay connoted to God,. They pray five times per day at specific times spread out from first dawn to night time as a way to “feed their soul.” Prayer is a ritual, no matter where they located. During working hours, one could see large groups of Muslim employees congregated for prayer. Sometimes when I heard the “Call to Prayer,” I stopped what I was doing or thinking to say a prayer in my head.

Leaving Saudi the last time

I left Saudi Arabia in 1978. One never really knows what you have left behind until you are gone, such as the special people and things that meant so much. But it is so much more, it is the smells that I can still smell today when I go into an Arab store or the hot wind if I am watching a movie about Arabia.

As you mature, the experiences you had in your younger years grow up with you.  The greatest gift that I carried away from my time in the Middle East are my understanding of the culture, love for the food, and my interest to learn more about the similarities between Christianity and Islam. I enjoy having interfaith conversations.

Looking for a miracle through prayer

Life after returning to the United States has not always been “a bed of roses.”  Some might say I spent more than my share of time tripping into the thorny bushes and getting bloody.  Roses can be beautiful unless you walk into the bushes and get pricked.  Then the story changes.  I tried to learn to pray.  My prayers were never answered.  Looking back, I wanted a miracle which never happened.

I started at Seattle University Pre-Law in the fall of 1975, but quit after the first year. Then I graduated from Edmonds Community College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies.  I took a job at a large law firm working for an attorney who taught one of my classes.  He specialized in construction law.  It was perfect for me, and I really liked it.  Unfortunately, the job came to an end sooner than I would have liked. (Another story) I immediately joined the military which was supposed to be a career, but only lasted two years.

Passionate or body count

Hence began the start to my nomadic life, moving around a lot for work.  With every move, I almost always found a church.  Sometimes I was passionate about attending church and worked as a church leader. Other times, I was just body count. I tithed and participated in the service, but I just was not into it.  When I moved from Kentucky to South Carolina, my mission to improve my prayer life took a dive off a cliff. When I was trying to come up with an analogy, the only thing that came to mind is “thick molasses being poured from a small necked jar.”  

I missed going to church in Louisville. I missed the camaraderie of the church family, and most of all our pastor.

Jesus is “The Way”

I miss Reverend Doctor Jean Hauxthurst who is an amazing woman, a great pastor, and a good friend. When I lived in Louisville, Kentucky, Jean was the Pastor at the Fourth Avenue United Methodist Church. She is so good that now she is the Ecumenical Staff Officer for Leadership Development at The Council of Bishops for the United Methodist Church.  

Rev. Dr. Hauxhurst gave me a lot to think about such as the meaning of the Trinity.  Something that always confused me. But most of all, she was able to help me sync up the story in the Bible of Jesus coming back with the story in the Quran which also says Jesus will come back. Jean said that “Jesus is the Way.”  The Bible does not say he is the way for Christians only, or that he will exclude Jews or Buddhists.  Jesus is the way for all that want to go.  I felt a sense of relief with her explanation and it made it easier for me to pray. Then we moved again.

Lack of motivation

I do not remember why church became difficult, or worse why I was not praying the way I wanted.  Was I too busy or under too much stress?  Or, maybe I was feeling too ill. None of which were good excuses. We hopped from Kentucky to South Carolina then to Virginia Beach (VB).

Before I lived in Orlando, I lived in VB. For quite some time, we attended a church we liked in VB, but then we stopped. My ex-husband got tired of going to church, so he would not take me to the church we were attending.  Since I could not drive, I felt I could no longer attend.  Not a great excuse either.  Did we have alternatives?  Looking back, Lyft was an alternative if I was motivated. I am now divorced. It is just myself and my granddaughter. Things are easier.

Here in Lake Nona, I always take a Lyft or Uber to get to church.  I never think about the cost.  I attend the Bethesda Church. It is a newly planted Episcopal Church in Lake Nona (Orlando), Florida. I notice amazing acts of kindness when I go to a new church.  The first act of kindness was on our first day. Rev Fr. Nick Braunschneider offered to give us rides back to our apartment after church. He said, “I go right past that way anyway.” He did not just give us a ride that first day, but he has given us a ride each time we attend.  Also, when Father Nick is giving his sermon, I always find it engaging and relevant.  Relevancy is extremely significant to me.  A light bulb has turned on regarding prayer since I joined Bethesda.

Does prayer deliver miracles

In one of his recent sermons, Father Nick talked about prayer.  His advice was to pray for a specific need we have and ask God for guidance about how to solve the problem. This made total sense to me.  Some people believe if God is not going to give them the instant result they need, their miracle, then what good is it to believe.  I think these people are losing out on a great gift.

In the book “Mighty Prevailing Prayer” (Duewel) says, “You cannot pray at length for everything , but you can ask God to guide you to special prayer concerns.” I believe what Wesley Duewel is saying is even if we tried we could not pray for all the problems in the world today. The list would keep us on “our knees” 24-hours per day, 7-days per week for the rest of our lives. That in itself is a sad statement.

Let us be kinder, humbler neighbors

The one thing I do want to make clear is I am not an evangelical.  I am telling my faith story because I believe it is important.  As a Christian, it is my role to strengthen my family, my community, and my nation if I can through humble conversation and action.  I pray that more people in our community and nation learn to work together to lift people up from poverty, heal the sick, and educate all our children. I hope we will become kinder, humbler neighbors no matter where we live.