Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where Prayer can Lead

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12 (NIV)

A couple years ago I took a big step back from my life and realized I was in one big, deep, crusty rut.  I was going through the motions in my faith, my marriage, my mothering, my friendships.  Where was the depth and richness that I once felt?  Why was I feeling so blah, empty, depressed?

Part of it was my biochemistry.  Thanks be to God and a couple of insightful, understanding doctors who guided me out of that dark and lonely abyss.  Thanks be to God and the researchers who figured out that brain chemistry can be regulated, stabilized with medication.

Part of it was I was missing the better part.  You know the whole Martha conundrum.  I was mired in the daily drudgery and I couldn't see God's blessing in it.

So I prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed.  Help me, God.  Help me, help me, HELP me!!  And while I waited for his answer, I started looking around for things that would remind me to look to God.

The calendar—jam-packed with activities, reminders, events, to-dos—ruled my days.  I wanted God to rule my days and my calendar.  So I looked for a faith-filled calendar that would remind me to pray and rejuvenate me with his Word.

I kept finding A-Verse-A-Day calendars.  Calendars that didn't fit my life or my organizational preferences or my spiritual longing.  Calendars that didn't have enough room for earthly stuff and heavenly strength.  So I waited for God to put the perfect product in my path.  

Then God put an imperfect process in my path.  He nudged me to come up with something of my own: a workbook-calendar-reflections-binder sort of thing that grew into a class at church and now a blog and who knows what next.  A way to frame my days with faith

To be honest, I'm not satisfied with it.  But I think that's God's point.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Faith is a process.  It is a commitment we renew each day.  It's a conversation with our Lord.  It's a behavior we practice.  It's a challenge-and-feedback-and-another-challenge cycle.  It's moving beyond our comfort zone and seeing what God has in store for us.  Trusting.  Waiting.  Hoping.  Praying.

That praying piece is a tough one for me and my random-abstract leaning brain.  I wonder and I wander and then I'm off doing something else and closing with a "Whoops!  Forgive me, God. Amen!"  I have to write my prayers, speak my prayers, sing my prayers so that I can focus on my prayers and my ever-listening Lord.  Then I have to be still.  Still in my head.  Still in my heart.  Still in my soul.  So I can listen to God's response.

I love his responses.  In Sunday's sermon he told me to get off that crazy, unending ladder climb to perfection.  Today he led me to 31 Days of Abiding.  He keeps finding clever, compassionate ways to tell me that I am okay right where I am, here, with him.  

So here I sit (well, no, that's not actually me in the picture... I wish I was that cute!), imagining I'm snuggled in his loving lap, surrounded by his Holy Spirit, pouring my heart out to him in prayer.  It is a blessing that feels like bliss.

Thank you, God, for this ongoing conversation with you called prayer.

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