Thursday, October 18, 2007

Without a Prayer

It's one of those things we know we should do, but which many of us have trouble practicing. It's one of those things that some folks seem to have a gift for, while others of us run to hide when asked to do it. It's probably the thing pastors are asked to do most often, and asked about most often by parishioners, strangers, children.

Prayer.

Other than commentaries on the Bible, I probably have more books on prayer than anything else. I probably have gone to more seminars on prayer than any other topic. I probably have talked about prayer with people more than any other subject. I probably spend more time working on prayers than sermons. And I still feel like a kindergartner when it comes to prayer!

I struggle with finding the time for prayer; with the place for prayer; with the words for prayer; with the proper attitude for prayer. There are times when I feel like I need to impress God with my verbal prowess, and so use the prayers of some of the great wordsmiths of the church, only to wonder, 'were they saying what I was trying to say?"

I've tried all sorts of 'postures' for prayer, from my nose pressed into the carpet, to my knees aching from wooden floors, to arms that grow weary stretched out to the heavens. There are those days when I just don't seem to have the energy, or wisdom, or belief to sustain my prayers, and I have to rely on those simple little ones I learned as a child, including, 'now I lay me down to sleep."

But I've decided I am going to keep trying, and hoping I will make it to the first grade. I will struggle with words, and trust that the Word that became flesh will whisper them into God's ear. I will try to find the time, even when I don't want to or even think I have any, and remain confident that the One who created every moment will take the time to hear my soul. I will use my body, my heart, my hands, my feet, my lips, my eyes, my spirit to bring my hopes and dreams, my fears and joys, to the One who created me out of dust and breathed the Spirit of God into me.

I will, as Jesus says, pray without giving up . . .

. . .because if I give up, I don't have a prayer.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

1 comment:

nancy rz said...

isn't it such a mystery - this whole 'prayer thing'...I used to wonder why I needed to pray if God already knew my heart - but now I think it is for me that I pray. not for God. as I struggle with the Ishmael text for my message in a few weeks, I wrestle with the notion that "God hears" - is that enough? does knowing that God is listening...watching, give comfort even if no desired 'answer' comes? ...but, like you Thom, I'll keep at it - blessings