Monday, August 21, 2006

Conversationally Speaking . . .

Been doing a great deal of talking about prayer lately. Some of the discussions are related to what I do for a living and some of them because of how I live.

Since prayer is inherently a "talk with God" language plays a role. I know plenty of folks who feel the need to go into God talk when they pray. And you know what? Bless them! I don't care how they converse with their mother and I don't care how they chat with God.

But when they assume that their way is THE way, well . . . then we have a problem. Recently, a good friend suffered much from a verbal lashing she received because how she talks to and of God didn't conform to this woman's view of the "sacred." But my friend talks the way she talks and I would no more edit her prayers than I would edit the beautiful free flowing expressiveness of her life. She adds to me by challenging me to think far beyond my usual mental borders.

After hearing her account of how she'd been reprimanded, I then had to meet with a group of folks interested in encouraging prayer for my city. The meeting was primarily about how to launch some prayer opporunities. Administrative in nature, I discouraged a couple of city "prayer warriors" from attending. But one felt the need to pray for me. Now, having admitted that I was bothered with how my friend was corrected "in Christian love" I have to acknowledge that I'm about to point out something in my personal prayer warrior's approach that might be considered criticism. So hear this . . . I'm not criticizing! I'm saying this just IS NOT ME!!!

The woman prayed for me over the phone. She told God everything that she and I had just said to one another (so much for that whole omnipresent thing) and then after about four minutes she began what I thought was her approach to the landing field. In my circles, when you start "in Jesus' name" that's time to grab the purse and the keys so you can be first in line at the restaurants because this show is about to close! But not her, she got to the familiar phrase, said it and then began to recount several of Jesus' names, then she closed in again with "in your son's most holy name" and decided to start listing all of God's other attributes. We circled the landing field at least four times before finally concluding that prayer.

Later when I was discussing this with a friend, I admitted that I liked the fact that she has her own style, that it wasn't my style and that in fact, laundry list prayers of things God is already well aware of simply bother me. I'm more of a moaner (and please just mentally behave and allow me to use that word). I moan and groan to God. I don't have the words sometimes to help God know what's needed. But what little faith I have assures me that a being as great is God is supposed to be somehow understands. And many of my prayers are silent versions of "eh? you hear that God, yeah whatever you can do, great".

My buddy who got her verbal hand slapped for word choice, talks to Jesus like a lover. I think that's cool. I can't do it, but I'm glad she can. And even my "will she ever stop?" warrior gets kudos from me for doing her thing. So why do I beat myself up and feel that my way isn't good enough?

One more thing . . . I DO have a problem with the people who act like prayer is a magic decoder ring. If you do it right, and God is satisfied that you've broken the code, then the world is yours for the asking.

Nuh uh. Can't go there.

5 comments:

some chick said...

nice post. well said.

when i was in my last semester in college, i had a really rough time with keeping my life pulled together between work and school and some relationship stuff. it was a very raw and emotional time for me. I recounted, in a college group setting at my church, how while praying earlier in the week, I got mad and told God he sucked. my college minister called me a heretic.

e said...

i noticed that my good friend..the commentor up above me...has gone through what i've gone through...

so...

although many people might think i am...i am not...alone.

thank you for writing this post...it could really be about a bunch of different people...

and i'm glad to call the so called heretic...a good friend...

because i've been much more harsh with jesus...and he still comes...

KC said...

Since "some chick" just had a baby and since "e" has a father that sends me scripture each day, I had to smile when today this one showed up and it was about pregnancy and prayer. With all of "some chick's" issues with her pregnancy I wondered if she would agree or disagree with the metaphor??

Romans 8
22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

e said...

i think it's really funny that you posted this as a comment...as i receive this email, too...i was reading it and thought of "some chick"...and her pregnancy...

what's funny is this...as i read the scripture...and thought of my friend...i thought..."a man wrote this scripture"...although most of it touched me...the whole "more joyful expectancy" i thought might be a load of crap...but...that's just my opinion...on his apparant lack of understanding the pissed offness of having to wait with a human inside of you getting bigger by the hour.

some chick said...

better late than never, I guess...

the only way I can think the "more joyful our expectancy" can make any sense "the larger we become" is that the end result is that much more blissful. not that childbirth is a process that anyone would describe as "blissful," but, you know? I'm even happier that he's here now that he's outside of me. I actually cried with relief when he was placed in my arms.

in which case, this male author must have known his share of pregnant women.