Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Transition and the Journey 9 - Prayer

 I: After a few months hiatus from writing, I am back.  I have sat down many a time with the intent to write some more, but in those moments, nothing comes out.  It is like trying to get a sweat pea to bloom before its time.  Today I am contemplating the whole subject of prayer. I know I wrote about this subject in the blog on Unorthodox communication... but I still want to pick at it.  Maybe I will uncover more... or just repeat what I wrote in the other blog.   I will turn the conversation over now to Me and Myself. 

Me:  Good morning.

Myself:  To you too.  How are you enjoying the holidays?

Me:  We aren't getting much accomplished with all the rain.  But I am trying not to feel bad in the process.

Myself:  July Showers bring what...?

Me:  More mosquitoes. 

Myself:  Makes it fun to pick strawberries when the skeeters have made their home in the patch. 

Me:  Do you think we should pray for sunshine?

Myself:  Guess we don't need to pray for rain.

Me:  Maybe we have the rain because someone was praying for it.

Myself:  And they forgot to quit. 

Me:  I don't think anyone would forget to quit praying.  Some forget to pray... But to quit?

Myself:  Can I ask you something?

Me:  Sure, go ahead.

Myself:  With everything that has happened in the last two years... are you still praying?

Me:  Define "praying"  and I will let you know if I am still doing it.

Myself: Communicating with God.  What else is there?

Me:  Let's just say, the communication method has changed. 

Myself:  What has changed?

Me: I don't bow my head and close my eyes anymore.  At least now when I am really having a one on one with my Papa.  There is still that respect clause when I am around other people that pray that way.  But that seems fake to me...

Myself:  Respect isn't such a bad thing,  I think we need to do that for others who aren't on the same path as we are.  We are on a different sort of journey than most.  It is good to remember that it isn't a crime to be different.  God wants us to be real with Him and to let others be real with Him in their own way. 

Me: So it could be okay to bow my head and close my eyes if it is helping someone else be real in that moment. 

Myself: That is respect. 

Me:  Let's change gears.  Let me ask you something now.  How do you respond when someone asks you to pray.? Is that automatic still, or do you process things differently?

Myself: Honestly,  I wonder how to go about that now.  It used to be automatic.  "Sure, I will pray for you!"  It was my Christian duty to pray for people.  Now... I want to ditch the duty part of the program.  I don't know how to do it anymore.  People are still asking me to pray for them and I don't know how to do that.  It used to be a program that I followed.  Now, like you said, praying is laying in my bed and whispering my thoughts to Papa. 

Me:  I find it hard to ask anymore.

Myself:  How so?

Me:  I find it hard to hand over my daily shopping list to God and expect him to fill it... or at least give me a good reason for not filling it. 

Myself: I know what you mean.  I wonder what percentage of the average Christian's  prayer life is taken up by asking God to fix this, and provide for that, and be with so and so ...

Me:  I'll take a wild guess and say at least 85%..

Myself:  If not more.

Me:  Maybe that is why it is hard to pray for someone.  That usually means asking God for something... even if it for someone else.

Myself:  I have been trying something different.  When I have someone on my mind, I just bring that person into my conversation with Papa.  I find I'm not asking for anything but acknowledging what God has already given.  Understanding that the person is right in the middle of God's hand.  Knowing that is comforting and I don't really need to do much asking. 

Me:  What about those times in Scripture where Jesus says... "Ask".

Myself:  I am not saying that asking is a bad thing... I just don't know how do to it right now without an agenda.  I want a break from asking.  I already know that Papa has me in the centre of his hand.  I just want to lay there and know that I am being taken care of. 

Me:  There are too many rules when it comes to prayer.

Myself:  Bowing your head and closing your eyes?

Me: Not just that.  Rules, methods, programs, liturgy...

Myself:  Liturgy... there's something we can talk about.  What are your thoughts on liturgy. 

Me:  I still have it in my head.  Imprinted on my mind from my childhood. 

Myself:  Do I detect bitterness?

Me:  Not really bitterness.  Just regret.

Myself:  Regret? 

Me:  Regret that it wasn't more personal back then. 

Myself:  Some would argue of the truth embedded in the liturgy... the scripture that is memorized...

Me:  I guess that is okay for some.  I don't find myself memorizing my conversation with my husband... why would I want to memorize my conversation with God.

Myself:  Let's go back to the rules.  What about praying before you eat.  That may be more of an expectation than a rule. 

Me:  I kind of ride the fence on this one.  When I am at home, eating isn't really a sit down affair.  We just load up our plates and sit down in front of the TV.  So then... no... I don't start dinner with prayer. 

Myself:  Is there a time when you do like to pray before a meal?

Me:  I kind of like it when I go out to eat with friends or when I have family over.  If prayer is important to them, then I am okay with it.  It does give me a camaraderie feeling with my Jesus friends.  It is personal, most of the time. 

Myself:  So prayer is two things.  One, is your alone time with Papa... Your one-on-one conversation, dialogue, relationship with God.  And then number two... The community ritual. 

Me:  Community ritual?  That sounds kind of cold.

Myself:  Is it? 

Me: Sometimes it can be.  But like I said before... respect.

Myself:  What about singing?  That happens a lot when you are with your family.

Me:  I like the singing.  It doesn't seem so ritualistic, more artistic.  It is something special. 

Myself: We could go on forever on this topic.  So many people have.  There are so many books written on prayer.  Heh!... books on prayer.  Do any come to mind that you read, ones that you liked or got something out of?

Me:  I have read a couple of the Stormie Omartian books.  Don't remember much... that was a while ago.  I think I have read a few in my time.  I have also read books on communicating in marriage... and I realize that is a skill only learned with practical experience.

Myself:  So all those books on marriage communication and prayer are a useless sacrifice of trees?

Me:  Not really a waste... they are tools and suggestions for improving communication... just not the answer to the problem and not the easy way out.  Some people are looking for the perfect program when it comes to prayer. I don't think there is one.  Prayer is relationship, not a program.  I don't have a program when it comes to talking and sharing my joys and sorrows with my hubby.  I just have to do it.  I have to make time to communicate.  Same goes for my relationship with God.

Jesus is the best example of that.  His prayers were between him and his Papa.  They weren't scripted or programmed... but he had to remove himself from the crowds and make time away from the busyness of life.

Myself:  We have a supper date tonight.  Do you think there is more to talk about on this subject?

Me:  Not sure... considering that we are not on a program with this conversation.  Maybe we should just wait for the next time we chat and maybe we will have something else to chat about.

Myself:  Whatever works.

Me:  I hear it is quesadillas tonight.

Myself:  Yee Haw.  Prayer will be a good thing then.   My stomach doesn't like cheese.

Me:  Mine either.