I want to share with you a few thoughts about prayer. But it is such a big topic that I am going to deliver it in segments. The last few years prayer has become a big part of who I am. Today I bring you the first piece, an event of nearly 30 years ago. . .
Part One: 1976
I was very sick once. I was dying. I had been living in a yogic ashram and had gotten carried away with meditation and fasting. I went weeks without eating. After a year or so of this my system had enough. It quit. I was extremely anemic. I had bouts of amnesia. I was no longer getting much nourishment from what I ate. I kept getting weaker. I was dying.
That was OK. I was ready. I felt it was just. I had abused my body, seeking spiritual visions and what not, and I was receiving the natural consequence for what I had done. I went off to die. I was staying in Ojai, California and when I felt it was over I went down to the Ventura river. In the summer it wasn’t much more than a creek running through a wide river bed.
I had spent a couple of months there. It was a good time for reflection, that summer of 1976. I had seen 14 of the last 24 condors alive in a tree there. I had stolen honey from bees, and sat under a fig tree and thought about the fact that I had spent so much time trying to reach some sort of spiritual enlightenment (they called it sammadhi), and had simply used my body up. There was a beauty in that dry place that I had become comfortable with, familiar with.
I had given up on the meditation and spent the time reflecting on life, nature, and praying. The praying was something I had stopped doing and now I had returned.
I wasn’t praying for my health. I wasn’t praying for much of anything. I was simply appreciating the beauty of the natural world and saying thanks.
I wasn’t sorry about dying. I was sorry for spending what I had been given on something worthless. I had forsaken the joys of a natural life for the pursuit of “astral planes” and “enlightenment.” I know, pretty hippyish. What can I say? I was a teen when “Kung Fu” was on the air and it sort of imprinted.
Dying was the just result of what I had done just as much as if I had spent my life on drugs and reckless living.
So I laid down on a sandy spot of the river bed, a few minutes before dusk, ready to pay for my foolishness.
“LORD, I am sorry. You gave me this body and I didn’t take care of it. You deserve more from me. Please forgive me.”
I felt a little vertigo, something I felt often, felt the breeze running through my thin beard, the sand under my head, and then a feeling that something was coming. Slowly I looked up the river bed and I saw the flood. Not of water, but of light. It was like a golden dust a hundred feet high and it rushed down the river bed and washed over me. And, almost audible, not with my ears but with my heart, I heard a voice.
“You are forgiven. There are things yet for you to do. Stop the foolishness you have been doing and get up. Go home. I love you.”
The point here isn't about a miraculous healing. I believe that the healing of my body was secondary to a more important lesson I learned. I learned something about love and gratitude. I was grateful for all He had given me. I had come to learn that I had been given wonderful resources and I had squandered them. I also learned that He loves me. Really loves me. He cares about what I think and feel and learn and do. He wants to be a part of a bigger story than the one I had lived for only twenty years.
Now I have added thirty years to that story and I understand much more about how He can be a part of a story that has helped me become something different, something better. I am still a foolish man. A mortal who gets off track and does silly things.
But the biggest part of prayers, then and now, is that they are not about requests or needs or sorrows or grief or even joy. Those can be a part of it, just as they are for any meaningful relationship. He wants to walk along side of me. To be my God, my master, my LORD, and my friend. He wants to share my life. He wants me to talk to Him. The point of prayer is not about achieving miracles, or even being obedient. The point of prayer is in being a part of a relationship.
So often our prayers are requests. I don’t think He minds listening to them. He wants to be a part of our lives, and our needs are important for Him to hear. He may even grant our requests for no more reason than persistence.
But I believe it depends more on whether or not what we want is truly in our best interest. What is important is that sometimes He goes beyond what we seek and gives us grace.
Things happen when we pray.
If you do not have such a relationship and would like to chat privately with me about it, leave me your email address and I will contact you. We can then delete your address so others don't send you spam. I am at your service in any way that pleases Him.
God bless you. Know that He loves you very much.