September 29/15 |
by Rev Gordon Taylor
Does prayer seem daunting to you … requiring flights of poetic eloquence, or knowledge of mysterious techniques, or demanding a religious soul so perfect that prayer feels hardwired into the holy? If those actually were pre-requisites for prayer, few of us would ever qualify!
As congregants ask again and again, “teach me how to pray,” I have realized that most of us initially approach prayer as if we were children or dependents on God. We have been taught this. The Bible says, “Be like a child.” Indeed, in many ways, this is true.
But let’s look at praying from a different perspective – from the point of view of a parent. (This will be easy for you if you are a parent; even easier if you are a great grandparent!)
Think about your conversations with own children … when they are little, or teens, or adult … as a parent, you want to hear from them. You want to know what happened at school, at the park with their pals, between them and their co-workers on the job, on their trip somewhere exotic, or from the side of the road as they throw up from too many beers.
Parents want to know everything and anything … what the highlights of Grade One were; what light in their mind suddenly switched on in Physics class; what hurts happened with their sister on the playground; how they are negotiating their love life; what epic disasters occurred in the business; what dynamics are working themselves out among their friends. It doesn’t matter if the parent has any experience with any of that … It matters to the parent because it matters to the child.
And, think about the method … it doesn’t matter if the child is snuggled into your lap, or yelling at you from the other side of the bathroom door, or skyping from a boring conference half way around the world. What matters is that they talk, and that they talk with you.
Poetry, and practice, and purity and polish are not required! In fact, those issues might get in the way of talking at all, or saying what really matters. Honesty and intimacy are far more important than style. Parents ache just to be involved, to have the moment together, to listen, to share an insight, or if there is nothing she or he can do to participate in the issue, just to comfort and repeat the most important message any of us can hear, “I love you anyway; I’ll never stop loving you … so let’s see what we can do.”
Jesus said God is “abba” – our parent! I believe God wants to be that kind of a parent with us. We can initiate and express our half of the conversation any way at all. (And we can hush-up and listen for the response as the other half of the prayer!)
“Hello, Lord. It’s me. Sorry about that meltdown yesterday. I was feeling really overwhelmed. I apologize for all the swearing. I’m fine today – thanks for such a sweet morning and everything you’ve done for me … well, for us all! Actually, I could use your help on something else. You see … …”