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Beside Restful Waters

“To pray simply and to listen humbly opens us to God’s response.”


How do I pray simply?

One of my Ojibwe teachings about prayer is this: we were taught prayers in the churches. Other people wrote words and we spoke those words and called them prayers. We were told to say “our” prayers. But, they were someone else’s words so how could they be “my” prayers. Rather, we are taught to “speak for” something or someone. “Greg, would you speak for our food.” “Ann, would you speak for the water.” “Uncle, would you speak for your nephew’s fast.”

We were taught to speak to our Great Spirit, God, for an intention.


Then we are taught to listen. We are offered opportunities to experience Creation from all of our senses.

Grandson, do you smell the cedar?

Sister, do you hear the water?

Granddaughter, do you feel life stirring within you?

While on a cradle board, a newborn or toddler is carried out while foods and medicines are harvested. The cradle board is hung from a tree so the child can “be” with Creator. After six or eight or ten thousand hours being with Creator, Creation, the language comes. It is not a language of words. It is the language of being – the senses – the presence – the sacred.

To pray simply is to be.

The presence of being is both speaking but not necessarily with words, and listening but not necessarily with ears.

So, here is my dilemma:

I was never rested in a cradle board and hung from a tree in the woods.

How do I pray simply?

We have a variety of gifts available to us to teach us how to be present: meditation in a variety of ways, contemplation, books and books about prayer, and most of all I believe, we have needs – pains, scars, fears, anxieties........ These needs offer me the opportunity to be humble – to be in need of a power greater than ourselves.

Now what?

I have to become like the child hung from a cradle board. I have to allow myself to be placed in the presence of Creator, Creation, and be. With all my senses I practice the art of being. I have to hang out and be.


For me, there is on-going challenge to my mind when I am practicing my “being” as I meditate, walk, sit, swim, ….... My mind wants to do, do, do. So, I practice.

I practice.

I offer my intention to my Creator and beg for help.


I am learning to be, little by little, in the simplicity of quiet and the humility of listening with my whole self.


Little by little, I am learning to speak for …... peace, needs, means, more peace, others – especially others, gratitude and more gratitude.

Each opportunity leads me closer to home, where I find us.


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