Like so many others, I’ve taken up tending and baking sourdough during the pandemic. I’ve been thinking about how prayer and sourdough are alike. Here’s my Top 10 list. Leave a comment letting us know what else you’d add.

10. It’s really simple.

Sourdough: flour and water and air. Salt if you like.

Prayer: Simply remind yourself God is here.  Speak and listen.

9. People can make it really complex.

Sourdough: Simple sourdough recipes are 6 pages long.

Prayer: So many books and systems and workshops teach How To Pray.

8. Following precise directions is fine; getting it in your bones is better.

Sourdough: Some people weigh ingredients to the gram.  My grandmother passed down the wisdom of adding flour by feel to know when it’s enough.

Prayer: Following others’ directions is fine.  Finding a way to pray that is truly your own is even better.

7. Day to day, it’s different.

Sourdough: You can put exactly the same amounts in, and get different loaves on different days because of humidity, barometric pressure, activeness of the yeast, etc.

Prayer: You can pray the exact same prayer form one day and be overcome by the intensity of it, and on another day the same prayer can leave you empty.

6. You may believe you neglected it beyond redemption, but it still has life.

Sourdough: Starter is very hearty stuff.  Even when it looks beyond redemption, a few cycles through the feeding process will revive it again.

Prayer: No matter how long it’s been since you last prayed, God is right there waiting for the next conversation.

5. Sometimes the abundance spills over.

Sourdough: I accidentally left a perfect dough out on the counter last night, and this morning it had pushed off the lid and blobbed all over the bowl and counter and cabinets.

Prayer: Sometimes prayer hits in a deep way and takes you to a deeper place, or a place of tears or a place of laughter.

4. When everything aligns, you can hear a still, small voice.

Sourdough: When a loaf of sourdough is baked to perfection and you take it out of the oven, it talks to you.  Steam escapes from it’s crust and it crackles and pops in a delightful way.

Prayer: For most of us, it’s somewhat rare, but sometimes in prayer we’ll hear a nudge or an affirmation or a love note from God.

3. It costs nothing to share.

Sourdough: Sourdough starter must be regularly split to stay healthy.   That split can be discarded or used or shared. Sharing it can be life-giving for others.

Prayer: It’s easy to pray for others in the silence of our own hearts.  We can also pray for others in their presence, which can be life-giving for us both.

2. Sometimes, it rises effortlessly. Sometimes it falls flat.

Sourdough: Sometimes I have a wonderful, well-risen loaf.  More often, it’s mediocre or pretty darn flat.  No matter what it’s like, it’s still food.

Prayer: Sometimes prayer is easy and effortless.  Sometimes it’s a slog.  It’s never useless.

1. It is sustaining.

Sourdough: Bread and water is enough to sustain life.

Prayer: Regular prayer is life-giving and life-sustaining. 

Can you think of other ways Prayer is like Sourdough? Or do you have something to share from your own life about prayer or sourdough? Leave a comment.


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