What Is Prayer?

Posted on July 2, 2014 by

These months of spring and early summer shared their beauty and their pain, their hope for new beginnings and the sadness of lives ended-some with grace and dignity of a life well-lived, and some with the tragedy of a life not-yet-fully lived. For me, I find prayer in poetry, in words of writers who speak the words in my mind that cannot find their way to the page. Thank you, Mary Oliver, for your gifts so eloquently shared. Thank you for your prayer.
fields in Davis, CA
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean –
The one who has flung herself out of the grass,
The one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
Who is moving her jaws back and forth
Instead of up and down –
Who is gazing around with her
Enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms
And thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
Into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
How to be idle and blessed,
How to stroll through the fields,
Which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
~ Mary Oliver
Poetry is prayer. With these words, I remember those who have moved on from this ‘wild and precious life’, saying a prayer for those they left behind. Dear reader, what is prayer to you? Where do you go to find comfort?
This post was inspired by writealm.com’s prompt-a-day for July.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Comments: 7

  • Shahzad

    January 4, 2024

    Jennifer, your heartfelt connection to Mary Oliver’s poetry is palpable. The way you find prayer in her words resonates deeply. This piece beautifully captures the essence of life’s fleeting beauty, finding solace and contemplation in the midst of nature. Thank you for sharing this touching reflection.

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    October 27, 2014

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  • sarah

    July 7, 2014

    poetry is prayer – so true.
    and that poem, it is so rich and soulful, an old favourite, a long blessing.

    • Jennifer Wolfe

      July 8, 2014

      I love love love this poem too, Sarah. Rich and soulful – absolutely. There are so many layers to it; each time I read it I find something new. Mary Oliver = master. Thanks for commenting! ~Jennifer

  • Lindsey

    July 2, 2014

    Yes. I find prayer in poetry too, and Mary Oliver is first among the poets I find myself turning to. xoxo

    • Jennifer Wolfe

      July 2, 2014

      Yes…and that poem, no matter how many times I read it, brings me such hope. Thank you, thank you.

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