Tomorrow Jenn and I are off for a three-day retreat kicking off a year dedicated to “Going Deeper with God.” The program is centered around a contemplative approach to spirituality that focuses more on settled being than frenetic doing. We are hoping that this will add a new dimension to our growth into Christlikeness, a valuable remedy to the rationality and productivity that our culture so values.
And boy are we having that approach challenged even before we get there! I already knew we were going to be in a cash-flow pinch this month because of vacations (and retreats!) in August and September, but then new demands on our time have rolled in: Jenn fractured more ribs hugging me Saturday afternoon; my hard drive died Monday evening, and I’ve had to buy a new computer and rebuild my work environment in order to be able to keep workflow going until my old computer is repaired (which will, naturally, require yet more time); and one of our key Board members at the Park has resigned leaving much slack to be pulled in.
I guess it’s a good thing that this retreat (and program) will be focusing on prayer. We’ll be needing it!
The question seems to be: how to find time for it. Thankfully, we already have prayer time as part of our established morning and bedtime routines. And I know the real issue is not “how can I find time to pray” but “how can I not find time to pray.”
If you’re looking for inspiration about prayer, meditate on the following, written by a Facebook friend who prefers to remain anonymous. It’s the best thing I’ve read on prayer in a long time… including the assigned readings for this weekend’s retreat.
I have an idea that all prayers are answered in the affirmative. Only we misconstrue God’s yes as the no, or the silence, or even the vast, soul-crushing indifference of our own thwarted desires.
Prayer to me isn’t like a ship in a bottle or a phone ringing and ringing in Heaven’s cradle. Not even a request for an object or outcome.
It’s many things. A refuge when I’m afraid, hungry, cold, lonely, lost, confused: in psychic disarray.
A way to miss God, as mourning the dead evokes both their absence and presence. They’ve not left our hearts, yet we’ve lost them: they’re not here as we need them to be, in the flesh of the moment.
It’s also like the bifurcation of life and death that occurs in childhood. Another way to say that we are desperate, desperate, for their reunion, what we long for in Christ: for the spirit of God to walk the material earth. That is also our lost birthright. So when praying brings that loss home, when I’m really begging God to prove Himself and intervene, what I feel is proof, is His intervention. I can’t say it better than this: when I pray, I know He’s real by how hard I miss Him.
Also: to ask is an act of faith. To say, here is what I want so bad, and in the same breath, please help me submit to Your will. When I pray like that it’s not about getting what I want; it’s about trying to abdicate desire when it’s strongest…
But my true prayers aren’t about me.
They’re about the pain and hurt around me.
I don’t believe God helps those most prayed over. (I can’t, after what the Bible says about the outcast and forsaken, the fallen sparrow.) But we owe all the love and compassion we can muster. The more we express, the more we feel, and the more we open our world up to God and His healing. So yes, I think God already hears us, always, but sometimes we’re a little deaf to Him. So I pray to seek His presence and try to be His servant. And for consolation.
Good thoughts as we begin to “go deeper with God for the sake of others.”