“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I’m reminded again of Paul Miller’s suggestion that prayer gives us front row seats to the redemptive action on the floor. I’m in need of reminding because I regularly revert back to this movie-culture mindset. I’ll try to articulate the heresy of my semi-conscious for you.
So I’ll start praying for some specific situation. But I’ll try to pray in such a way that I’m not fixating on one result. I’ll say all the “not my will but Thine” things that a prayer might require to be taken seriously. I’ll try to foresee all the things that a resounding “No” could eventually bring about, like running out of gas and missing kickoff but then running into an old friend at the gas station, thus justifying God’s choice to me. I’ll get frustrated with the Psalms because they are so life-and-death and they feel a little dramatic for my purposes, or maybe they just trivialize my interests.
And after all this, I’ll have a transcendent moment where I feel like I’ve really embraced God’s sovereignty over said situation. And here’s the movie-culture part. As soon as I feel this, there’s an unconscious intake of breath and a pause.
Because in a movie, all the angst is just about learning the lesson. So at the moment of lesson-learning, the problems are miraculously resolved. So I pause. Unconsciously, I think I said.
As if my feeling really open to anything should mean that an answer is imminent.
And then I catch hold of my rambling thoughts and feel stupid. But the good part is that, in feeling consciously idiotic, I can again rejoice in the truth that the whole prayer process is what makes a relationship. So the longer I’m kept hanging on one question, the more we’ll have to chat. And when we chat more, all kinds of things much bigger than that question might happen.
“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” ~ Oswald Chambers