After grappling for years with the meaning of prayer, Jan Vallone realized the simplicity of what a priest described to her as “conversation with God”:
I knew, absolutely, that I had felt God’s presence in my life. I’d catch my breath at a tangerine sunrise and whisper, “Thank you, God,” then be moved to smile at everyone I passed along the street. Or I’d be startled by an ambulance siren and think, God, please let that person live, then be prompted to write to my aunt who’d had a heart condition for years. Or I’d shriek when my daughter burned a skillet and wince thinking, God, why am I so testy?, then be spurred to take my daughter out to lunch.
So while I can’t sense Divine presence beyond the clouds or within me, I feel God close, and clearly, in unexpected moments like these—moments of awe, joy, fear, sorrow, or contrition. God captures my attention in these moments. I cry in recognition, feel a surge of heart. I respond with acts of love, often in spite of myself.
Are these exchanges conversations? I’d like to think yes. Thus, they’re no less prayers than the kinds I struggle with.