Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Prayer: Part Three

The most fervent prayer I ever made, the most consistent, steady, intense prayer I ever lifted up to Him, was for a child.

“Oh LORD. Oh God. I want a child. Please grant me a son to raise. Please give me someone to teach and to love. Please, give me a child.”

It went unanswered.

I met my wife leap year day, 1980, and the years crawled past. There were hopes raised, and hopes dashed. B. became pregnant, but it was a tubal pregnancy. So I repeatedly asked God for a child. Whenever I saw little kids, and my heart ached, I asked God for a baby.

I hadn’t talk much to Him. I had spent most of my time doing the usual self-absorbed living our species does. But now I prayed.

“Oh LORD. Oh God. I want a child. Please grant me a son to raise. Please give me someone to teach and to love. Please, give me a child.”

It went unanswered.

We began attending a local church. Our first Sunday there the pastor spoke about the long awaited hope for a child suddenly being fulfilled. We went home, prayed and prayed and prayed.

And He granted us a child. A miracle of improbable circumstances, finances, and timing. I had been praying and reading in scripture about this. My biblical studies had focussed on the Abraham & Isaac story, and things (finances, spaces, food, clothing. . .) fell neatly, tightly into place.

And he died. The child died.

And I prayed.

I wept, and I grieved. I hurt with an ache that I had never felt before. I woke each morning with a heavy heart and I fell asleep each night wishing I was dead. I went for walks in the fields and woods in the middle of the night, and I felt like I would never smile again.

I walked across newly fallen snow softly lit by stars, I walked through rain, and I walked through fog illuminated with dawns’ first red light.

And I prayed.

I read Job and saw how he prayed: weeping, raging, quietly, and defiantly. I prayed likewise.

I struggled with the idea of a loving God who could permit this terrible anguish. I read the papers and the internet about Angola, and Haiti, and Afghanistan. I wondered at the immense suffering of people throughout the world, throughout time. How they suffer, how they are cruel, how they are evil. I wondered at the tragedies people go through and questioned why it should all be so ugly.

And I prayed.

I examined the beauty of nature, rainbows, sunrises, flowers and rivers and mountains and the cycles of the moon. I felt the stirrings in my soul of indescribable beauty and depression, and wondered at the range of emotions a human heart can hold.

And I prayed.

I prayed in groups and I prayed in solitude. I sang praises to the rising sun, and to the risen son. I prayed to the God who made me, and to the God who kept me breathing when I would rather be laid in a grave. I whispered prayer in the dark, and I shouted angrily in the dawn. I prayed in songs and I prayed in screams. On my belly, on my knees and standing defiantly on precipice.

I prayed.

I learned that I can pray through words, and songs, and whispers and shouts. I learned that I can pray through art and writing and even dance (if one could call my sideways shuffling a dance). And I learned an important thing about prayer.

It isn’t really about requests and praises and psalms. It is about communication. It is about sharing a life. . . my life. It is about sharing dreams and fears, joys and sorrows, love and anger.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9

This was the way we were designed to interact with God. Casually. Regularly. A sort of “See ya this afternoon! We’ll sit on a rock and chat.”

If you struggle with praying, don’t worry so much about the how. Whether it is The Lord’s Prayer or the Prayer of Jabez. Whether it is a humble "thank you" at a meal, or a whispered word of gratitude as you drift off to sleep, it doesn’t matter where you start and what is said. Just start. Just say something. Anything. Let it grow into something more. Let it grow into prayers of reflection and prayers of praise. Let it grow into rants and songs and adoration and whatever else you may feel.

Every relationship requires communication. So, pause, right now, this very moment, and whisper a “thank you,” or a “I wish to know You more,” or a “Our Father who art in heaven. . .

There is power in prayer. Things happen when we pray. And the most important thing that happens is that He and we get to know each other.

p.s.: If it helps to pray for someone else, I would be grateful for a prayer for my family and my health. Things have gotten a little rough again.

God bless.


G~ said...

This is an awesome post, CS. Just tremendous.

I have always struggled with an ongoing prayer life. Always felt I was leaving something out, afraid I'd forget to mention a request made at church, etc, then I'd get frustrated because my mind would wander and so forth.

This is such an excellent way to think about it. And maybe I pray more than I realized after all...


David said...

You have me thinking. I am so sorry things have gotten rough for you and your family.

MMM said...

my favorite church is my car.

and my method of beginning:

"Okay, God, let's you and me talk a bit."

From there it goes....well, wherever.

Your names are before Him.

bjk said...

Thanks...forwarding this around....the simple truths get us the most don't simple we can miss em.....praying for and with you....a sister in Christ...becky

Tenderheart said...

I'll keep you and your family in my prayers...
I hope things get better.

Internet Street Philosopher said...

Whoa. That's some rough stuff, but I'm glad that you still love God.

Carolyn said...

beautiful post. the honest, heartfelt cry of a child to his Father. thanks so much for sharing this.

i am a pastor whose responsibility in the church is to counsel full time. at this time, i have a precious woman who lost her dear daughter at 11 days old. i've ministered to her for several years and thus walked through the birth, and death with her.

your words are her words. with your permission, i will email this post to her.

bless you in your life, and i have already prayed a prayer for you and your family.

Maripat said...

I don't think I'll ever understand why things happen. Thank you for the reminder about how important prayer is in our lives.

Lorna said...

thank you for this. It meant a lot to me

truevyne said...

I remembered the glorious day I figured out dancing wildly in my living room was prayer. It changed my life to have a way to pray so hard I couldn't breathe...

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