"Do you pray?"
It's a common question in the Bible Belt. It's ranks up there with "Are you saved?" and "What church do you go to?" It's the way people in this part of the country tell "our people" apart from "not our people."
I've become accustomed to all three, although at first I found them a bit nosy and intrusive. As a Catholic, I was not raised to ask those questions of strangers. It's rude. It ranks right up there with asking someone how much money they make. It just isn't done in polite society, except it is here.
I have answers for the other two ready to go at a moment's notice, but the "Do you pray?" one is different. I always answer "Not as often as I should." It's not the right answer. "Do you pray?" It depends what you call prayer.
If by prayer they are meaning the fold your hands and bow your head kind....I do. I do at every meal, well not always breakfast. It's not that I'm not grateful for breakfast, it's just usually eaten on the run or in a hurry, and a granola bar doesn't seem like much of a meal. I should be better about breakfast. I'm good about the other two meals and bedtime prayers with the children, do if this is what you mean by prayer, then yes, at least 3 times a day.
If by prayer they mean a long hushed conversation with God where I pour out my thoughts and concerns either out loud or in my own head... not often. The chaos and fatigue of 6 children, 1 husband, and 2 dogs means constant interruption. I love this type of prayer, but it only seems to happen when the baby wakes up at 3:00 and is nursing in the quiet warmth of my bed. I may not always be coherent at 3 AM, but I do my best to not doze off. It's warm and quiet and my days are long.
If by prayer they mean simply talking to God and being grateful...I do. I do it dozens of times a day. I sit in the still quiet of my living room nursing #6, in that one moment before the noise erupts again, look to Heaven and just say "Thank you" out loud. I go running in the muggy air of summertime Oklahoma and the skies open in a quick downpour, just enough to cool me off and I smile and laugh and shake my head because I was just about to say "How about a little rain?" so I look up and say "You're funny. Thanks. I needed that." My day is a constant stream of big and mostly little gifts for which I thank Him.
If by prayer, they mean do I let myself feel the love and joy of God...oh, yes. It is one of the best parts of my day. I simply bask in the love of my Creator and let myself feel the joy of being His beloved girl. I breathe in His presence all around me and smile and say "Hi." Other times, I literally sing out in my joy in His presence. Can the song that goes "me and you, and you and me.."be a prayer? I sing it to Him all the time. I like to think it makes Him smile. Sometimes it's nice to simply sit in the Presence of God and just be. Is that a prayer? I think it may be.
If by prayer they mean do I go to church...absolutely. How do I put into words the ultimate prayer experience which is the Mass? How do I say that the best form of prayer is sacrifice and that there is no sacrifice greater than that which is re-presented every single time in the Holy Sacrifice which is the Mass? It is the gas that keeps me going from week to week. It is the prayer which lifts me up and allows me to sing with the choirs of angels. It is the solemn and serene point of my week where all my worries melt away and I get to stand in the actual physical presence of my Lord.
Do I pray? They have no idea.