Monday, April 18, 2005

Prayer is a Place

Hello pumpkin,

I've been thinking about you since we met. You are funny, and kind and beautiful, but you know what, you don't know it. I could tell. There is that hesitation in your gaze, and a lingering sadness that has settled itself about your shoulders. I recognize it. I've lived with it for most of my life.

I know things have been rough for you, and if I know it, God knows it, too. It's much too big of a question to ask God why. Some things, we just won't know this side of Heaven, but rest assured, you are not alone. God is with you, and so am I, and there others God has sent.

I think the thing that I'm supposed to give you is prayer. Oh, pumpkin, you don't know how I write this with fear and trembling. What do I know about prayer? Not much. Prayer is mystery, and just when I think I've got it in my grasp, it turns into something ineffable and flies away on it's rainbow wings.

So, I'm going to bumble, and stumble about, and it's going to be lame and inaccurate, but it's all I've got, and maybe, some grace in here will find you, and you will get a glimpse of God. I know He loves you. And He doesn't want you to hurt yourself anymore.

So, let's begin.

First thing, and it's taken me forever to learn this, 40 years in fact. Prayer is a place. And you go there. I know that's something to sink in, but take your time with it. We have eternity to figure all this out. So, we'll take this easy and slow. You meet me here and I'll bet God will show up, too. He's good that way, baby. He really is.

We'll get to the prayer place soon, but for now, I wanted to tell you something very important. You are very smart, and I can tell you may be tempted to try to do this intellectually. Well, you can't intellectualize prayer. You have to go there. And you may even have to be "prepared", but it's not hard. I promise you that, and it will save you, prayer will save your life. It's true. It's saved mine, and I've got the scars to prove it.

Don't try to be perfect. Just start off hanging out with God. God can deal with it if you don't even say anything. I don't want you to judge, but to experience. I don't want you to know, but to love, and to be loved. Prayer will be your secret place, and nobody, I mean NOBODY will hurt you there.

Let's start with this prayer by one of my favorite saints. St. Michael Yaconelli. I know, Mike would laugh if I called him a saint, but he is now a full time citizen of heaven, and he left his good writing here for us to enjoy. This prayer he made takes all the pressure to do it right. Here goes:

I have always been terrible at praying.
I forget.
My mind wanders.
I fall asleep.
I don't pray enough.
I don't understand what prayer is.
Or what prayer does.

If prayer were school...
I would flunk praying.

But prayer isn't school/
It is mystery.

Maybe the mystery is...
Jesus loves terrible prayers.

When I can't think of anything to say, he says what I can't say.
When I talk too much, he cherishes my too-many words.
When I fall asleep, He holds me in His lap and caresses my weary soul.
When I am overwhelmed with guilt at my inconsistent, inadequate praying
He whispers, "Your name is always on my lips."

I am filled with gratitude, my soul overflows with Thankfulness, and I...
I...find myself saying over and over again, "Thank You."
Praying the Mystery.

Let's start there, pumpkin. Saying "thank you" opens the door, and the next thing you know, you are there, in the mystery.

Did you feel that rush of rainbow wings across your face? That's prayer, and it's saying, "Welcome weary soul. Thanks for coming."

More tomorrow,


Heather Diane Tipton said...

Wow. Beautiful. Thanks for this Raga, I needed it today. Your posts are always so timely.

Carrie said...

I was so changed by Michael Yaconelli's book Messy Spirituality. I didn't know he graduated to heaven!

Paula said...

Awesome post. Awesome prayer. Really encouraged me tonight. Think I'll get off the computer and climb into bed and see what comes out--whether I don't know what to say, try to say it all and bumble around or just fall, exhausted, asleep in his arms. Last week was oh so hard. I just need His mercy, like you talk about in the next blog. His healing, unconditional balmy love that can be rubbed into my wounds and fears.