notes on prayer.
1. The idea of prayer is mind-boggling. If you believe in a sovereign God who intervenes in this world, the idea that we, as tiny, finite little beings, have the ability to speak directly to Him via prayer completely blows my mind. The idea that those prayers matter, that they are heard and in some mysterious way they actually make a difference, is perhaps even more mind-boggling.
2. Considering I believe what I just stated in #1, it’s sobering to know that I don’t spend significantly more time in prayer. See, I enjoy praying quite a bit. Ideally I like to have a quiet space to either journal or just speak aloud all my thoughts about the day, my triumphs and anxieties, both big and small, dreams for the future, prayers for others, etc. But I have found that when it comes to certain topics, the really big ones that can feel overwhelming to even think about, I can’t pray. I feel too paralyzed to pray. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, since these ones are the exact ones that need extra prayer, but I really struggle. I am so afraid that if I throw in 100% and really, devotedly pray in earnest for these things, and my prayers never come to fruition (as I envision them anyway), then I will be left to deal with the implications: does God not love me enough? Does He really not intervene in the way that I believe He does? Has my premise been flawed all along?
3. The Bible describes the prayers of the saints as incense, a sweet aroma that is pleasing to God (Rev 5:8). I like that imagery.
4. Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran Church, is quoted as once telling his barber, ”I generally pray two hours a day, except on very busy days. On those days I pray three.” Talk about a shift of perspective when it comes to time, prayer, and priorities. Something to aspire to, for sure.
5. Sometimes I feel convicted in groups of people when we’re going to pray before a meal or a celebration or something and there’s this long, awkward silence following the Who wants to pray? question. I just feel like if we really, truly believed that prayer was an active conversation with the living, all-powerful God, shouldn’t we each be eagerly desiring to be the one? What an honor to be the one representing the group as we bring our supplications to God. Why then is that question sometimes followed by a not-it nose touch? You know the one I’m talking about. Like uuuugh, I so don’t want to do this so the last one to touch his or her nose is stuck doing the typically undesirable task. How the nose became the symbol of choice, I don’t know, but sometimes it bugs me that we (myself included) are not more honored and humbled to pray.
6. I think that prayer matters. Even though there’s not a set formula to know that God will answer in the way that you want, there have been too many crazy stories of answered prayers and too many times that God has been exceedingly faithful in my own life for me to toss it out altogether. But I hate not being able to figure it out. I hate feeling vulnerable and at His mercy. I think that’s part of the point and it’s really right where I need to be, asking for mercy and grace, but it’s uncomfortable.