Aretha Franklin 1

I have enjoyed listening to Aretha Franklin sing for as long as I can remember. She is a P.K. (preacher’s kid) who grew up singing gospel music in the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit where her father was the pastor. But I never expected to receive spiritual counsel from the Queen of Soul. However, last week I did.

I was driving along in my quiet, comfortable, zero emission electric car listening to a CD of Aretha’s hit songs. Although it was a love song, the lyrics gave instructions for one’s prayer life.*

I know folks who have a highly structured and disciplined routine for praying. All my Christian life I have found that to be a struggle. I pray. I pray often. But I do not have a well defined ritual that I practice.

prayer 4

The Apostle Paul instructs the Thessalonians  to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). The Common English Bible translates Paul’s words to say “pray continually.” Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible, The Message, translates Paul’s words as “pray all the time.” How do you pray all the time? Continuously? After all there is work to be done. Duties to be performed. Relationships to be maintained. How is it possible to carry on all that daily life requires and always be praying?

Aretha reminded me of what I already knew. Too often we equate prayer with a certain posture and ritual. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there are times when kneeling or bowing your head when you pray is appropriate. Religious rituals can be wonderful resources for prayer. The words of others can be great tools to use in praying. Having a quiet and private place in which to meditate is invaluable. But the circumstances of daily life does not always allow for these aids to prayer.

Prayer 1

So how do we pray continually? Aretha says (sings) “Each morning I wake up. Before I put on my make up I say a little prayer for you.” She says that as she considers her wardrobe and performs the simple act of combing her hair, she says “a little prayer” for the object of her affection. On her way to work and even when she takes her coffee break, there is opportunity to pray.

prayer 3

There needs to be time intentionally set aside for prayer- to offer our petitions and praise to God. It is certainly appropriate for collective prayer when people of faith gather in worship together. Equally important is the awareness that prayer can be offered at anytime and in any place. It is not difficult to pray continually because prayer is simply conversation with God and God is with us wherever we are and whatever we may be doing.

Thank you God. And thank you Aretha.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

*I Say a Little Prayer for You lyrics

The moment I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little pray for you
While combing my hair now
And wondering what dress to wear now
I say a little prayer for you

 

Forever and ever, you’ll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever and ever, we never will part
Oh, how I love you
Together, forever, that’s how it must be
To live without you
Would only mean heartbreak for me

I run for the bus, dear
While riding I think of us, dear
I say a little prayer for you
At work I just take time
And all through my coffee break time
I say a little prayer for you

Forever and ever, you’ll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever and ever we never will part
Oh, how I’ll love you
Together, forever, that’s how it must be
To live without you
Would only mean heartbreak for me

 

Writers: Hal David, Burt F. Bacharach, Burt Bacharach

Copyright: BMG Gold Songs

 

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