I often read about folks on Facebook being “lifted up” in prayer. It’s an arresting image, though somewhat foreign to this cradle Catholic. I like the idea of hoisting someone heaven-ward, raising them physically and spiritually in prayer. But it also sounds strenuous, the work of “prayer warriors.” Me, I’m more of a prayer peacenik.

Prayer doesn’t have to be hard, or serious, or even formal. All times and all ways are open to prayer. A friend just commented to me yesterday that although God can always find her, wherever she is and whatever she is doing, she needs to be in a place that feels “ripe” and “right” to connect with God. The line of communication goes both ways, but we are the ones who tie up the line constantly, being too busy and too distracted to answer God’s call.

Sure, we can “storm the gates” with our requests. But does might equal right — or in this case, do more prayers mean more action? I doubt it. I think God hears the tiniest sigh of the most overlooked and miniscule creature just as loudly as God hears a roar from the populace. Which is not to say God ignores anybody. But neither is God a democracy. The “ayes” don’t necessarily have it.

However you pray, whether in shouts or whispers, in crowds or alone (too anguished to share your burden), God does the “heavy lifting” of prayer. God sorts out our incoherent wails and moans, sifts through the dross to get to the heart of our needs, mourns with us, aches with us, longs to console us, does not turn away when we forget to say, “Thank you.” God does the work. We tend to forget that. All the prayer warriors in the world can’t do what God does, effortlessly and always.

So lift people up if you like. But remember: It’s a lot like that game we girls used to play at slumber parties, “stiff as a board, light as a feather” — you needn’t stress and strain. It’s in God’s hands. And in God’s hands, we rise.

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