Shadow Boxing

By Greg Clark of Independence, Missouri, USA

…Prepare yourselves through much study and earnest prayer. Then, as you go forth to witness of my love and my concern for all persons, you will know the joy which comes from devoting yourselves completely to the work of the kingdom. To this end will my Spirit be with you. Amen.  Doctrine and Covenants 156:11

The shadow boxer, taking short quick steps, drifts across the green field. He throws jabs and uppercuts, connecting with nothing more than air. He holds his hands in a protective position, shoulders hunched forward, elbows close at his sides. A hooded gray sweatshirt masks his identity, but not his intensity.

He throws combination after combination. Left-right. Left-right. Left-right-left. Upper-cut. He’s training. Working out. Trying to get stronger.

Each short step, each jab brings him closer to his goal. Closer to a time when his punches will connect.

The shadow boxer reminds me of my prayer life. He tries different tactics: jabs, uppercuts, even roundhouses. I try different prayer forms: lectio divina, intercessory, gratitude. Just as the boxer throws punch after punch without connecting, I sometimes feel like I throw prayer after prayer at God, without response.

Of course, I know God always hears me. It’s just that I don’t always listen well. Perhaps it’s because I’m in a defensive stance, not leaving myself vulnerable to God’s presence.

Finally, I realize what’s happening. Just as the shadow boxer’s repeated punches lead to better physical conditioning, my repeated prayers lead to better spiritual conditioning. So I’ll keep praying.

The more I work out spiritually, the better I’ll be prepared in my relationship with God.

Prayer for Peace:

Listening God, may we be still and connect with you. May our prayers be earnest, two-way communication so we can hear your call for peace.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Caring for God’s Sacred Creation

Each day this week choose a way to notice, give thanks, and care for God’s sacred creation. Prayerfully consider one of the following suggested practices or create your own.

Walk in nature with a spirit of gratitude and “holy attention.” Write a psalm of praise for the beauty of the Earth or a prayer of healing and blessing for the wounds of the Earth. Learn about and engage in an act of Earth-keeping such as recycling, simple living, fasting from over-consumption of resources. Notice the unique diversity of the planet’s creatures and be gentle to plants, animals, trees, and people! Fall in love with the vast, intricate wonder of God’s creation and give thanks.

Peace Covenant:

God, I will try to let go of my prayer agenda, and attend to yours.

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