Somewhere, buried in an album, is a series of snapshots from 2004 in which I appear red-faced, sweaty, anguished, and barely able to stand. Yet my expression still reveals the elation I felt after having a Boston Marathon finisher’s medal placed around my neck. Everything I had put into preparing for and completing that race was visible, for better or worse, in my face: My run wasn’t perfect, but I persevered; I finished. I felt changed, able to handle any challenge that came my way.
I wish I could say that I always bring that same level of preparation, concentration and elation to my prayer life. Instead, my face too often reveals impatience or boredom. In my desire to act, to help a cause toward a distant finish line, I sometimes forget the importance of stillness.
Yet all our actions must be rooted in prayer, which begins that change from within. Prayer is the necessary catalyst for transforming ourselves into who we must be to do the work God calls us to do. We must bring our truest selves to our conversations with God so that we may have the courage to reveal who we truly are to others.
In doing so, we allow others to see in our faces the peace and strength God offers to all—and which help transform the world. We are not perfect, but when we persevere in prayer, we are changed, strengthened, and better able to face whatever challenges come our way.