Our Teaching Pastor, Sean Palmer, continued our recent series with an important word on prayer; how it brings us into greater alignment with God's will, why it is often so difficult for us, and how we can embrace the fullness, simplicity, and mystery of prayer in our longing to hear God's voice in our lives.
Romans 8: 26-28
He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolaters, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.
Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.
—C.S. Lewis, Footnote To All Prayers
My belief is that when you're telling the truth, you're close to God. If you say to God, "I am exhausted and depressed beyond words, and I don't like You at all right now, and I recoil from most people who believe in You," that might be the most honest thing you've ever said.
If you told me you had said to God, "It is all hopeless, and I don't have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand," it would almost bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride in you, for the courage it takes to get real-really real. It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.
― Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
It doesn’t have to be the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few small stones;
just pay attention, then patch a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate, this isn’t a contest but the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak.
― Mary Oliver, Thirst
You can't know, you can only believe—or not.
— C.S. Lewis
Embrace the Entirety
Sean quoted Anne Lamott, who wrote, "My belief is that when you're telling the truth, you're close to God." Are there prayers of pain, anger, or doubt that you've withheld because you're not certain who is on the receiving end? Will you commit to pray, even in the midst of anguish and seeming hopelessness?
Embrace the Simplicity
Often, we hesitate to pray because we don't have the "right" words, or the "beautiful" words. If this is something you experience, will you commit yourself this week to the discomfort of praying anyway; aloud, and simply with whatever words arise?
Embrace the Mystery
Commit to the act of prayer as a daily rhythm, even to pause for 5-10 minutes. Pray for situations in your life and family, those in your neighborhood or workplace, pray for them by name. Pray for the church, and the healing of divisions in our culture, and throughout our world. Pray for those suffering under violence and injustice. Pray for those whose voices have been forced into silence. Pray in thanksgiving, in adoration, in confession. Whatever it is... pray. Set a daily phone alarm if it helps. Take note of the state of your heart afterward, or after a week of this rhythm.
Faith's Review & Expectation
Justice Will Roll Down
Come As You Are
The Master's Calling
Come Light Our Hearts