Pray as if God works only in response to prayer.
Here are my past posts on prayer:
Foster tells us that prayer is the most important of the disciplines. I agree wholeheartedly. As I've said before, prayer requires us to open our mind, bringing all it contains to light. But, unlike simple spirituality encouraging mindfulness and reflection, Christian prayer requires the opening and exposure of our minds exclusively within the presence of God. Prayer is a time when we stop and take stock. When we pray, we have to admit that we're carrying a lot of baggage with us. When we pray, God opens our eyes and we see that baggage clearly. When we pray, we have to admit to ourselves and to our God whether we'd prefer the misery of carrying that baggage or the joy of being free.
My long time readers remember some of my other posts that espouse radical faith in God's power to redeem even the most horrific of people's actions. I'm happy to admit that those posts generally spawn from brief and intense prayer. That has been the consistent power of listening to God in my life.
Conversely, for several days now, I've caught myself repeating scripted words in the hope that they might have the power to release me from the anger I'm holding on to. I learned today that words–regardless of whether they're scripted, improvised, comprehensible, or articulate–only have as much power as the faith that backs them up.
Immediately [he] cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!"
Today, and many days before, this was the only prayer I could pray. Despite all the good in the world, it seems that all the bad wants to crowd in and control my thoughts. My goal isn't to ignore the bad and focus on the good, though. My goal is to see reality through God's eyes. And from the perspective of God, all things have been redeemed. All justice will be served. Every person is a glorious ruler of creation. And every persecution and trial is a new reason for great rejoicing. This isn't idealism or even optimism. This is the simple, objective reality that we live in.
So, today as I pray, I admit that I'm angry. I'm angry about injustice, and I'm angry that my pride is under attack. I admit that I don't want to submit to those with power over me, even though I know I must. I admit that I'm unforgiving, holding grudges for years after apologies have been made.
I believe that God will redeem me from these things, but I'm relying on him to help my unbelief.
I am the ground of thy beseeching; first, it is my will that thou shalt have ti; after, I make thee to will it; and after I make thee to beseech it and thou beseechest it. How should it then be that thou shouldst not have thy beseeching?
— Juliana of Norwich
Until next time: rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
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