Saturday, September 9, 2017
Should a prayer begin with gratitude or passionate petitions about what is wrong...
(which we usually call that latter thing, "Grumbling"...but would never dare believe that is what we are saying to God)? Gratitude like we are buttering up God, so we can get to our long list of pointing out where things are not so great. Grumbling might be more honest way to being. Pleading with God to be God and intervene, interrupt the hatred, violence, pain, brokenness and all those things that made us wonder if God is really with us and for us. Usually, that is what we think of with prayer. Give it all over to God. However, often times I keep just enough of that brokenness or pain or frustration with someone else, in case God comes back with that "forgiveness" thing again. Because if God does that, I will say, "Well, but do you know that he did such and such to me??" Which, of course God knows...but that was my Ace card...so I have to play it.
Often times gratitude becomes another "ought" in religion. We should "Count our blessings". We should be thankful, after all, we reason, look at the people who Texas...who I am sure don't want their lives to be some means to our grateful end.
So, we have these things in our hearts. These joys and concerns. These yin and yang extremes. Thank you, God, for laughter with children and for my wife and for my dog's unconditional love and for this moment. Thank you, God, for people who actually read my blog...seriously there is a lot of other stuff on the internet like cat videos on Youtube. And by the way God, if you could help me get over my anger at that person, fix this broken relationship, help me parent my children and be a better husband and be with us at Stewardship time. It starts to sound like God is some divine Santa Claus or Genie in a bottle.
So, what is prayer?
The mystics say it is silent communion...
But what about all my stuff and the injustice in the world.
You want me to just sit there in silence and be.
Or maybe even listen for God to get a word in edgewise?
Or maybe even feel a peacefulness in the midst of the storm?
What is prayer?
I don't know if I can really define it...but I know that tending a relationship means paying attention. And too often I tend to treat God like one big ear rather than also a moving Spirit that might want to actually do something in my life.
What is prayer?
Maybe it is being lost in grace...held in peace...surrounded by love...and for one fleeting, fading moment realizing that this, this is just as real and true as anything else. Again, I am thinking of you, Cat Video on Youtube or the stuff coming out of leader's mouths or the beauty or the brokenness.
Maybe that is really the wisdom beyond truth. The wisdom that says, "Yes, that is not right." And, "Yes, that was a holy moment" And, "Yes, that was ordinary and normal and beautiful too." Yes to all of that...and yes to the biggest, broadest, boldest statement of prayer we can ever utter or offer.
Grace and peace everyone
(I know you are totally going to go watch a cat video now!)