Today I share a prayer recorded by José Hobday, who was a Seneca elder and a Sister of the Franciscan Order. Framing that prayer are some of her reflections about learning to "pray always" from the Native American spirituality of her mother and some reflections of my own. (Her mother was a full blood Seneca-Iroquois and her father was a Southern Baptist and half-blood Seminole).[1]

From Hobday: My mother prayed as a Native American. That meant she saw living as praying and praying as living. She tried to pray her life. She expressed her prayer of gratitude, for example, in the way she did things. She told me many times, “When you stir oatmeal, stir it slowly so you don’t forget that oatmeal is a gift and that you don’t take it for granted.”

She taught me and my brothers to walk with our hearts high and to walk softly on the earth because the earth is our mother. . . . As we walked, she said, we should be ready to enter into every movement of beauty we encountered. . . .

Indians pray as relatives of the earth. They consider the sky their father, the earth their mother. The sun can be a brother or a sister. This makes you a creature with a relationship to creation, not someone above it or better than it. . .

In our prayer, we might very well reflect on . . . creatures, and their relationship with creation. That is what Native Americans have done. It has not only kept them in touch with creation, but with the Creator as well. [2]

Bio breakfast oatmeal

I want to point out a few things in these comments. The first is that this type of "praying always" isn't about a constant mental or verbal refrain of words. It is about infiltrating whatever you do with a spirit of attention and gratitude in and for that moment.

Second, this prayerful way of being means exchanging efficiency and speed for meaning. To stir your oatmeal slowly so that you remember it is a gift, is a way of living that requires slowing down and being alert to where you are and what is around. It means giving up the habit of getting through things as quickly as possible in order to get to the next place or task.

Third, this way of praying reminds us of our connection to the Creator and our place among other creatures on this earth. It can guard us from being solely focused on ourselves without reference to the rest of the creation.

Fourth, this is a practice that must be taught and learned. The word practice itself states what is required to learn it. Practice.

I invite you do go outside and stand, letting the orientation of this prayer root you in your place, in your connection with creation, and in the day to come.

Prayer of The Seven Directions

as recorded by Sister José Hobday

*Each turn is a quarter to your right

Begin facing EAST.

This is where the sun comes up, and so the direction of new beginnings, hope, promise, and potential. Pray that you may be open to receiving these gifts this day.


This is the direction of warmth, growth, fertility (!), also known as creativity and productivity. In addition, this direction represents faith, trust, and faithfulness in relationships. Pray for these things this day.

Turn WEST.

This is the direction where the sun goes down. Thus, it is the direction of rest, of our dream lives, and of closure and endings that need to take place in order for there to be new beginnings. Pray for these things this day.


This is the direction of the cold, of winds, of strength, courage, fortitude, might, single-mindedness, focus, clarity, and purpose. Pray for these things this day.

Turn back to the EAST – and turn UPWARD.

For Native Americans this is the direction of Father Sky. Pray that your heart, mind, soul, and spirit will not forget to look upward this day, to the One who is so much greater than we are.

Turn DOWNWARD – and touch our Mother, the earth.

Pray that everything you do this day will be in honor and reverence of our Mother Earth.

My family was enjoying some time on a hike in a wooded area.  The way the light was coming through the trees and across the grass and daisies was making me itch to capture the moment. 

I got down on my stomach in the grass to capture this photo of my daughter Ellie. All I had with me that day was my iPhone X which was still a champ for captuing the moment perfectly. I just love the way the end of the day sunlight was making her glow.  To me this photo perfectly captures summer, childhood, and my sweet girl, who shines brighter then the sun.


Place your hand on your heart and pray that all that you do this day will be true to the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit who dwells within you. Amen.

Did you find yourself refreshed or hopeful after this prayer? Did any part of it feel awkward? If so, do you plan to continue practicing this way of praying?

I plan to practice for the next few weeks and would love to hear if you are practicing it, too! You can download a copy of the prayer here:

Hobday's books including Stories of Awe and Abundance, may be found on Amazon.

Sister José Hobday

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