Thursday, June 25, 2009
A little meditation on prayer.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. John4:23
I am half~way through Philip Yancey's book Prayer ~ does it make any difference? Interesting book.
I find books like this difficult though ~ & over the years I've read a few of them ~ because my issues with prayer don't seem to be quite the same as anyone else's. I ask different questions. I go about things contrary to how most people seem to do things. I'm not complicated. I'm a parent & you know the thing that drives me wildest about having a gaggle of children underfoot? The nagger. The kid who goes on & on & just . won't . shut . up! They remind me of this: It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house; & Solomon was in a position to know! With God I don't want to be a brawling woman chasing him down through all of heaven. Nope. I tell him what gives & then assume He will work things out as He sees fit ~ which may or may not be what I want, in my time frame, according to how I see things but He is God & I assume He knows what he's doing. Every so often I check back to see how we're going with something, touch base so to speak. It's not as though I wasn't able to express myself plainly enough the first time round.
Yes I do know all the verses about keeping on at God but I can't do that & not worry so given a choice between 2 sins I'll go with the first. It's not as if Christians have just one arrow in the arsenal either. Well, I don't. I have been known to sit at my computer screen & absolutely rant at God. *sigh* So much for a meek & contrite spirit! You want me to do this? Then you provide the weaponry! I figure I'm in good company. Job, Israel, Moses, Jonah....actually most of the prophets now I think about it stood up & went rank at God at one time or another. Understandably.
Most mornings I drop Liddy at work pretty early. I'm barely awake at that hour of the morning, let alone civil. I don't want to talk to anyone, let alone God. If I've had my coffee before we head out I use the return trip, the only time in my entire day when I am completely & absolutely alone [the loo doesn't count; the cat comes & I never feel real comfortable chatting to anyone on the loo] to pray. I pray out loud; in tongues. I can't seem to pray silently in tongues & it's not the sort of thing I want to do in my house where a child would invariably interupt & want to know what I'm talking to God about. Now if I had the gift of interpretation that wouldn't be a problem but I don't. I haven't asked for it. I figure the Spirit knows what He's doing too.
Do you see a pattern here? Yeah, me too. I tend to be passive, which is why the meditative prayer of silence suits me so well. I am uncomfortable telling God but perfectly o.k emptying myself & waiting with what patience I may for God to speak to me. Hardly the dialogue of relationship you might say but you don't know my household.
Seven people [& the cat] have lived here & for all seven of us it is the same. We don't do idle chit~chat well. If I'm going to talk I'm going to have something worth saying. I assume, yep, that if God has something He wants to say to me He'll make His wishes known.
This means I have a rather odd prayer life. Almost indescribable. I don't normally make a practise of setting aside a certain time to talk to God. When people talk about a regular *quiet time* I am puzzled. I don't fret about why bad things happen to good people. Genisis explains all that. I don't expect God to suspend all the laws in the universe just to make me happy, precious as I am in His sight. I know I'm not going to get out of here alive. BUT...not having read Practising the Presence of God I think this is what I do.
Have you ever reached out in the night & put a hand on your lover's heart just to feel the reassurance of their breathing? Have you ever tip~toed into a child's room at night just to watch them sleep? Ever stroked a cat just to hear it purr? Then you know how I go about prayer. I wake up & touch God. Yep, he's there & going about His business of keeping the world from flying completely apart. Sometimes I lie there for a bit & we sort of chat or he shows me things ~ I'm a visual so I tend to work a lot in pictures though I have never consciously practised visualisation in my prayer life. I get up, I wander about my house, make coffee, switch on the computer & every so oten I stretch out a thought...? Yep, God's still round. And so it goes. I spend my day putting out stray thoughts, reaching for God the way a shy child clutches at their mother's skirts, drawing reassurance from their presence. And things come back ~ the verse I couldn't remember; a thought about what I've been studying in the bible; pictures...oh, all sorts of stray things. After all God lives here too.
I hate it when things go catawumpus in this house. The first thing I notice is the absence of the presence of God. It's as though He too has sought a safe haven from the tumult.
Not terribly orthodox of me & I mostly have to keep quiet when people talk about prayer because while I do erraticaly practise other ways of prayer the bulk of my prayer life is the *in passing* kind. When I do consciously sit down to pray I very rarely leap into it. How can I? Sure there's always plenty on my mind & I could certainly rattle on for ages about what's bothering me but what would be the point? Those prayers seem to bounce of the ceiling in my experience whereas if I wait & ask God what He would like me to pray about we come into agreement. I am *in the vine* so to speak. Then I don't have to worry about whether I'm praying His will. I know I am. I don't have to worry about my prayer being genuine. I find I care about what God lays on my heart.
I grew up in a liturgical church so I know liturgical prayers too & they have their place, especially when the well runs dry. The psalms are liturgical though my tendecy is to run to the prophets who don't pull any punches when talking to God. Find someone else, Jerimiah commanded. You tricked me, ranted Jonah. I am a man of unclean lips, mourned Isiah. If all else fails I pray the bible. You promised, I tell God. There are prayers aplenty to choose from.
Yes, I struggle with prayer. I fall back on relationship. I reach out a tentative hand to touch the hem of His garment: for reassurance, for healing, for the peace that passeth all understanding.
God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer. ~Mother Teresa