Isn’t this prayer “stuff” so much more simple?


I waited with relish for this morning’s facetime. Having woken in the middle of the night, and had an extended “duvet huddle” with Him (the rain was pattering on the windows, Cate! It was gorgeous! – http://wingedprisms.com/2014/10/06/the-sound-of-silence/)

The topic He put on the pillow? Prayer.

Again.

And as He and I mulled thoughts, ideas, pointers, direction and meanders … I wondered: “Am I praying? Does this kind of time together “count” as prayer?”

Because a comment from Julia had brought “group prayer” back to mind.

Julia had added a post I thought quite beautiful: Gentle Breeze: “Our prayers are acceptable whoever we are” –
”Sometimes the simplest form of communication and the most heartfelt, can be the most powerful.” http://reflectionsduringlent.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/our-prayers-are-acceptable-whoever-we-are/

I have a few wordless prayers (whether “group or personal” – wordless prayers are good to go wherever and whenever). But as I lay there with Him in the silent darkness, He plopped a question down:

Isn’t this prayer “stuff” so much more simple than you all like to make it?

And then He took me away and rolled “miracles” around my mind. Why that word “miracle”, He asked. What is a miracle, He asked. Isn’t a miracle ONLY a miracle to the recipient and those observing?

Prayer … miracles … faith … communication … it was quite a night!

Then to “normal waking time” and facetime with the daily verses from SacredSpace – http://www.sacredspace.ie/ – He and I get on well with their offering of daily verses, the prompting of awareness and quiet. But sometimes I disagree with their “have a think” piece. And this week I have disagreed:

“Pray as If Everything Depends on You” – Excerpted from An Ignatian Book of Days by Jim Manney: “This means that prayer has to be urgent: God has to do something dramatic if everything depends on me.”

Really?

And then coming to this church – Caleb popped up a post this morning: “What if I prayed?” –
“Sometimes I think we like to shove ideas about praying down peoples throats. We like to preach, write, and talk about it. We like to share our feelings, thoughts, and emotions towards, and about prayer, but we don’t actually pray. Like I am doing right now, I am writing about the idea of praying, but I am not actually praying. We spend so much time talking about things, but we don’t actually put the things we talk about into action.” http://cgallanger1.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/what-if-i-prayed/

And part of me is intrigued. And part of me groans a little.

Does it really have to be its own special word and way and mystery? Because isn’t prayer simply another word for “connecting”?

And if it is simply connecting – then surely that comes in all shapes and sizes. And that connection is not about what, how, why, when, who, why (albeit it is fun to sit back and look in wonder as we all do from time to time). Is it not more a case of simple and total acceptance – “connection simply is”?

Sometimes it might be asking. Sometimes it is listening. Sometimes it is just being together. Sometimes it is simply I love you. Sometimes it is togetherness under the duvet in the middle of the night. And sometimes it is “knees please” in a group.

Yet in any and all of that … Is it really about us “getting through” and “being answered”?

Because if I doubt (if I am not sure of the connection) … if my connection is based on results (if I need evidence) … if I am the recipient rather than the miracle doer (if I am the interested observer always waiting to see what happens next) …

Does that not “break the connection”? Does that put me “outside of connection”?

And then Levi popped up a post this morning: “The Greatest Joy of God!!!!!!” –
“Far too many Christians think of God as hesitant and stingy when it comes to answering the prayers of His people. So we try to figure out clever ways of offering Him bribes or saying specific words as if they had magical powers to get God to give us what we want.” http://levithetford.com/2014/10/07/3804/

And once again I am left pondering …

His question still echoing in my mind: Isn’t this prayer “stuff” so much more simple than you all like to make it?

Hmmm …

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “Isn’t this prayer “stuff” so much more simple?

  1. Hi Paul! I ponder a lot of things. Prayer has been one I ponder………. In I Thess. 5:17 it says to pray without ceasing…. I thought about that a lot – if we were to pray without ceasing in the way religion says to pray we would never have an income or a family, etc. So I came to the conclusion it goes back to the relationship with Jesus…. continual – a life style. Then I found this:
    http://www.gotquestions.org/pray-without-ceasing.html
    pretty good stuff in this writing…..
    cate

    • “… an awareness that God is with us and that He is actively involved and engaged in our thoughts and actions.”

      That is a neat link Cate, thank you!

  2. I think well-meaning preachers and writers have actually hurt our ability to be in communion with our God. Here’s what I mean. Too often prayer has been relegated to “quiet time” practice or church services or prayer meetings. As a nine-year-old I promised at church camp that for the rest of my life I would spend at least 5 minutes every day reading my Bible and praying. While I know good came out of that, much bondage was also connected. And much guilt and performance-driven Christianity fostered. As a young mom I heard a pastor say we should give God the best minutes of our every day, to sacrifice. So when the preschoolers/babies napped, I gave God the cream of the crop moments. Again MUCH good came out of that. But also a warped mindset.

    I love to prayer journal. There are seasons when I could spend hours each day journaling with God. It helps me focus. Helps me hear. But my old nemeses, guilt and performance driven behavior tried to kick in again this fall when I was having some incredible hours alone with God, focused, pen in hand. And I wanted it every day for hours, but life moves quickly and I knew such a focus was not sustainable. As I talked with Him about this (pen in hand) He told me our communication ebbs and flows like the tide. That just as it is wise to put aside alone time with my husband and to grab hold of unexpected opportunities for deep conversation, these times of extended aloneness with Him are precious. But that He knows we can’t do this all the time, just like every day can’t include a date with my husband. Then He said something like, “Well meaning preachers have asked you to give me your best time. I don’t want your best time. I want all your time.” And I understood. Walking with Him is connection. Prayer is connection. It is not to be compartmentalized. It is to be lived. All day. Every day. In a myriad of ways.

    • Paula, I have wallowed in your words. Embracing them. Absorbing them. So much of what you write: communion with our God … relegated … guilt and performance-driven … not sustainable … We can’t do this all the time … Is very much how prayer seems to be.

      And then: I don’t want your best time. Prayer … is not to be compartmentalised. It is to be lived.

      Thank you for, in far fewer words than I, expressing so eloquently so much of what has been lurking and moving in me.

      👍🙏👍

  3. Paul excellent post as always!! Love your insights! Personally in prayer love to get to a place where I and just be still. Its hard for me cause I always have a long list of questions. Anyway, It is there I find during the connection, stillness, I find myself honoring Him as I sit in awe of Him, and receive from HIm. Come to think of it I should do that much more often. : ) You have me thinking that I need to quit thinking so much during my pray time. LOL Thanks! Love and Blessings!

  4. “Sometimes it might be asking. Sometimes it is listening. Sometimes it is just being together. Sometimes it is simply I love you. Sometimes it is togetherness under the duvet in the middle of the night. And sometimes it is “knees please” in a group.” Paul, in these words I believe you have pretty well defined prayer in true Pauline style. You’re the man!!! 🙂

  5. I think the quest to define prayer often limits it or at least how many people perceive they must do it. Like conversation with a dear friend it is sometimes familiar, sometimes different, sometimes predictable, sometimes exciting. Sometimes you give more into the conversation, at others you listen more. Our prayer time with God, however we define it, is probably as unique as each one of us…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s