I believe in prayer like I believe spring will come again. And when winter tarries and the days are dreary, I feel my hold loosen bit by bit, but I never let go completely, because I am held in place by a power so much greater than my grip. Prayer is my lifeline, the one thread of grace given me as I navigate through the pages of my story.
To be sure, I am in no way trying to come up with a theological treatise on prayer. I think we have enough of those. I just want to talk about prayer, and what it means to me, and why I do it.
Prayer is an ongoing conversation between God and I. Sometimes I get cut off when something else demands my attention. But then, I just pick up where I left off. And when I’m done talking, I try to listen, and sometimes I understand what I’m being told and sometimes I fall asleep in the silence. But then I wake up and maybe I’ve forgotten what it was I was telling God about, but then there’s always something else to say.
In all honesty, I have to admit I am not a model prayer warrior. I don’t have a set time to pray each day and I don’t have a prayer list I follow religiously. This is because I have found that the more I structure things, the more I tend to shy away from them. And so I don’t. I just, well, pray.
I pray because I need to vent. I think maybe God doesn’t have an ear that gets tired easily. And I know he knows what’s going on in the world, but sometimes I just need to tell him anyway, because when I do, I feel a bit of peace. Enough for me to continue to hope for better things for this world.
This morning I prayed for Myriam, that little girl who escaped from the terrorist group ISIS and who spoke so much wisdom when interviewed. And I prayed for other children like her who live in the war zone, and for their parents who are forced to watch their children suffer. And while I still don’t understand why God doesn’t just put a stop to all these wars, I know that he is close to the broken-hearted and those who need comfort.
I pray because it’s the safest place to be. I know I say a lot of stupid things. I know if other people heard me, they’d judge me even more a heretic.
But I don’t think God minds.
I think many times I amuse him with my thoughts.
Often I get this picture in my head, like I’m an ant and he’s this eagle high up in the sky, and I keep yelling up at him and telling him the world is square and he just shakes his head because he knows better. And then he gently corrects me, often through other people, real or imaginary.
I pray, not because I need to ask for favors, although I do that a lot. I pray because I need to tell him about the things that concern me. And even though he already knows, he lets me talk because he knows being with him anchors me like nothing else can. And I think he likes being with me as well. I know he loves me, so that’s not a stretch, right?
I tell him I get tired of having to do housework. I tell him what I hope for when it comes to my sons and their futures. I tell him when I don’t like a certain person, and I ask him why he had to bring spiders into this world. I complain a lot, and I also thank him a lot. I’m this big tangle of contradictions, and he is patiently working through the mess.
Mostly, I pray because I don’t know what else to do and he does. So I go to him, because he draws me to him. And he gives me peace, and he gives me hope, and he reminds me I can always start over. And then he tells me to read my Bible, because he’s got a message waiting for me in its pages. And by that I know he wants me to do something.
And when I tell him I’m so far back in this race called life, he reminds me it’s not about the distance I get to cover, it’s about how many miles I walked with him, and how those times changed me to be more like him.
It has been raining hard, but the ice is melting and there are birds singing. The sun is fighting to break through the clouds, and tomorrow it will win the battle.
Spring is here, literally and figuratively.
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight. At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more, when he bares his teeth, winter meets its death, and when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.” – C. S. Lewis