Friday, September 15, 2006

My thoughts on prayer

While I can never claim to be as great as Philip Yancey, I do have to say that a lot of where this comes from is inspired by his book, Prayer Does it Make Any Difference? . I think what I love is that in the beginning, he states very clearly that he writes from the perspective of a seeker, not as a person with all the answers. In truth, that is why I feel I must do this.

I'm not a big prayer girl, at least not in the way I'd like to be. I've always felt stupid praying, not sure if I'm doing it right or saying the right things, and whatnot. It reminds me of what was my personal theme song throughout most of my college life, and into a lot of my post college world. And you know, it fits now too. Now before some of you go postal when you hear who it is, I'm not vouching for their faith. I'm one of those wackos who can see God in just about anything, and well, this piece speaks to me.

Help Me by Concrete Blonde
(there's a discrepancy in the lyrics on the sites, so I'm picking the one I like best because I can't remember where my tape is. Yes, this is back from the days of tapes)

Maybe it's just a phase
the days and the nights and the nights and the days
of tossing and turning and burning and churning
Inside my brain

Or, maybe I'm finally insane
but I don't know what to believe anymore
It's like I'm caught in some revolving door
over and over and over and over

....teach me how to pray.
....tell me what to say
help me help me help me find my way

I never could play the game
And all their faces look the same
And I won't give up
Won't give in
You know I never want to be like them I'm
Ticking away like time
Out of sync and out of my mind
well I used to know a truth from a lie
just by looking in their eyes

carry me away
farther and farther and farther everyday

help me help me help me find my way

Hanging by a thread
and waves of confusion break down on my head
when I think of all the things you said well the words

higher every day
a price I swore I'd never pay

help me help me help me find my way


But you know, I look at that song, and I feel the vulnerability in my soul knowing the terrible mess I've made of my life, and the mixture of anger and pain and sorrow and frustration. I just want God to reach down and show me. To teach me how to pray. To help me find my way.

I look at our enemies, the people who make our lives miserable, and I wonder what it is that they lack in their lives that make them feel as though the only way out is to harm us. I look at some of the requests from folks who've posted. Camy's situation, where these jerks think that by taking down an innocent man that they will somehow gain from it. Jana's situation, where these other jerks continually make her feel bad. Tom W, who shot and killed a guy for no good reason that anyone can figure out. Jamie Lynn, who lost a son and is blaming a lot of people who don't need the blame. I wonder, do these lost people, do they need God to reach down and help them find their way? To teach them how to pray?

And maybe, there's something dark in our hearts, like the darkness that has me plotting the murders of loser freaks like the guy who gave me the bird today because I had the audacity to get in his lane and *gasp* only go five over the speed limit. Perhaps it's needing to learn how to pray for those things too.

Because honestly, what do you say to God when praying for your enemies? Doesn't He realize that you HATE these people? He knows that you aren't really asking, "Please Lord, bless this person." He knows you're saying, "I'm asking you to bless this son of a gun, but really, I want you to inflict him or her with boils, or if I really don't want to be bothered, just smite them off the face of the earth."

However, I find comfort in my beloved Philip Yancey. He talks about our relationship with God as a friendship, and the qualities we wish for in our friends. Yes, God knows what we're really thinking, even behind our holy words and holy actions. But when we get down on His level and openly say, "God, this sucks. These people suck. And I know I'm supposed to be praying for them, but I simply don't know how to love someone that I hate," we're connecting with Him in the honest, intimate way that true friends are supposed to communicate.

I love his quote of Tim Stafford on page 58 of his book:
We do not pray to tell God what he does not know, nor to remind him of things he has forgotten. He already cares for the things we pray about... He has simply been waiting for us to care about them with him."

Did I mention I love that quote?

I should also probably say that I haven't even finished the book yet. I'm still working through it, getting so much out of the first few chapters that I'm not even on the praying for our enemies part yet. I'll get there though.

The thing about praying for our enemies, and I'm fairly certain this is where Yancey goes with his book, is that while we may not start out on that same page as God, when we pray for our enemies, we're asking God to show us those people through His eyes. Just as He sees past our blemishes, He sees past theirs. And maybe, starting out on this journey, I shouldn't be so up front about that. Because the thing about enemies is that we don't want to see past their blemishes. We don't want to see their humanness. It's so easy to hate an "enemy".

There's this great childrens book out there called Enemy Pie . The thing I love about the book is that when the kid spends the day with his enemy, he realizes the human side of the enemy, and in seeing his humanity, realizes the enemy is really a friend. Yeah, I know, none of us are going to be inviting bin Laden over for tea anytime soon. But I can't help but remember how Jesus sought out traditional "enemies" of the Jews like lepers and tax collectors and turned them into friends.

But who knows? This could all be just another installment of "God is messing with Danica's head". Maybe the point has absolutely nothing to do with the enemies themselves, or even the fact that our hearts are hardened enough that we have enemies. Maybe I'm overthinking as usual and it really is just as simple as God using this as a way of saying, "My child. My friend. Come and spend some time with me. Tell me about your enemies. Not because it's anything I don't already know, but because I want to spend time with you. Time to show you that I care about what you care about. Time to show you that I love your honesty." Whatever.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll get really lucky and have the chance to watch Him smite a few of them. Too bad I'm not gifted in songwriting. I could write a whole new worship song: Rain down sulfur on the Taliban. Smite those al Qaida operatives.

Yeah, I know. God's got a lot of work to do on me yet.


Post a Comment

<< Home