My first real introduction to activprayer came when a friend told me his secret for working so many long hours as a corporate attorney to support his family of 7 children. He’d been made a partner in a prestigious law firm by age 35 and was working on some of the most high profile cases in Las Vegas. I had no idea that what he was about to tell me – and show me, through his actions – would rock my world forever and make all of those other things look like a pile of straw. What he told me took me deeper than I ever intended or wanted to go. This is the story.
Rick told me that carried to work with him all of the intentions that he had on his heart. He thought about them and prepared himself to act on them during his 20 minute drive into work each day. When he got into his office, he taped a small piece of paper to the side of his computer screen with the names of the people or things that he was dedicating his work to. During the course of the day, he’d dedicate 30-minute chunks of his work to each one on the list – 30 minutes for his youngest daughter, 30 minutes for his wife, 30 minutes for his son, 30 minutes in pure thanksgiving, and 30 minute chunks to all kinds of intentions that only Rick knows.
Nobody had died, nobody was sick, nobody had specifically asked him to do this: it’s just the way he goes about his work. 365 days/year. It changed his life. It changed the people around him.
His work wasn’t about him.
Before he started one of these 30-minute dedications (what today we call an activprayer), he’d take 30-60 seconds and re-dedicate himself to that specific intention – he might look at a picture in his wallet, or simply sit back in his chair and call the person to mind. He rectified his intention. Then, for that next 30 minutes, he’d do his work with 100% focus, 100% effort, and every bit of love that he had. He poured himself into it. His action itself – the way that he worked, and the human perfection that he did it with – was in itself the message, the prayer. He paid attention to details He finished all things well, down to the last detail.
Not because his boss would be mad if he didn’t. Not because anyone was watching. Not even because these people would ever find out what he did for them – normally, they didn’t. It was his hidden heroism of every day. Heroic, extraordinary heart put into “ordinary things” that produced extraordinary results – some are seen, some are unseen. But they’re real.
Not only was he dedicated his acts to an intention greater than self and impacting other peoples lives through his activprayer, but it was also allowing him to pour himself out into his work and do it with an excellence that he simply wouldn’t be able to do without drawing on a source outside of and bigger than himself. The thing that I noticed right away about Rick – more than anything – was how joyful he was. That tends to happen when you know that you’re going beyond yourself and turning your life into a gift.
When I heard about this, my world was rocked. All too often, I went to work thinking that I was doing something for me, doing something that didn’t matter, doing something that “normal” or something that I had to do simply to pay the bills. But there are no such things as normal things – not if we have anything to say about it. Every single task – every single minute – is an opportunity to dedicate to an intention greater than self, and to transform both self and the world around us at the same time.
It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes. It could be 5 minutes. It could be 1 minute. It would be each client that you have to call, each email that you have to write. Little things. Divide your day up any way you want. The important thing is to begin developing the habit of recollection, the habit of dedication, and the habit of doing things with excellence and purpose because they’re being done for an intention greater than self that moves you – that inspires you.
The irony of activprayer for me is that it didn’t start with fitness at all. No, it started with simple things that I was doing: a letter that I had to write that I didn’t want to write, a phone call that I had to make that I wasn’t thrilled about making, or a household chore that I was dreading. Before I’d send an email, before I’d sit down at my desk to work another hour, or before I’d clean another room in my house so that my girlfriend didn’t give me an earful the next time she came over – I’d prepare. I’d remember what I was doing and why I as doing it, and I’d commit myself to doing it as an activprayer and offer it to a personal intention. And because I offered my action as a gift, it was unthinkable that I’d do it with anything less than my best.
Little by little, everything changed. I never viewed action the same way again. There was never again such a thing as something that I had to do “just to do it”. Everything was new and fresh. Everything was grace.
Every single act took on added dimension: height, weight, and depth. The flat surface of my life became like an ocean that I had only begun to explore. It was as if someone had given me special glasses that let me see an entire hidden reality buried within the simplest human act.
There was nothing that activprayer didn’t touch.
Thank you, Rick, for sharing. If you hadn’t shared – and this is why sharing is so important – the ordinary prose of my life would not have been turned into poetry. I’d still be wasting my time doing things in a purely human way. I’d lack supernatural vision. I’d lack purpose. I’d like excellence.
I’d still be doing a slapdash job in my workouts, in my work, and in all of those ordinary duties of the day instead of transforming them into something dynamic, something living, something so new and so old: love.
This is my story. This is my activprayer.