Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bible Challenge, Day 6: Genesis 16-18; Psalm 6; Matthew 6

Prayer is a conversation with God. That is a simple enough statement, but from there it does get complicated. What prayer looks like, sounds like and how we experience prayer in public and private seem to be generators of conflict in life, both when we are in community and when we are in solitary moments. Or, perhaps worse...prayer can often lack any sort of impact at all. Words and thoughts, when surface-based, can lack weight and integrity, and seem to possess the same substance in our souls as those motes of dust floating in sunbeams do in our homes.

Prayer is loaded. How we pray does matter. To whom we pray does matter. What we pray for does matter.   Prayer, well, matters. The simplest prayers are often the most potent. I once heard a speaker offer up that at base there are only three kinds of prayer..."Wow;" "Please;" and "Thanks." Others will say there is only one: "Thy will be done." All prayer boils down to being willing to first offer up our intent, and then let it go so our life and plans are formed in God's will and not our own.

Prayer matters in today's readings. Abram, Sarai and Hagar are praying with, and to God. Their prayers are active conversations with the Divine, and in God's responses we see not only sense and purpose being made in the lives of those praying...we see sense and purpose being forged for us, their descendants. Those prayers not only define the quality of their present relationships, they also project how we will be relating to each other and to God.

The Psalm show us that even at the worst moments in our lives, prayer is paramount. This lament shows that some of the most powerful prayers arise from us in those moments when sleep is a memory and our tears soak the bedding beneath us.

Jesus' counsel on prayer is succinct. When we pray, pray this way..."Our Father who art in heaven..." (you know the rest...)
The Lord's Prayer on a grain of rice...
Be honest and forthright with God. Be transparent to yourself, and invite God into that clarity. Then, go live it. Daily. Yes, that should be just a little terrifying...that kind of prayer takes us "off script" and into deeper places inside our souls. Those kinds of prayer also link us more closely to God and to an authentic life. Prayer is as important as breathing in and out. It should be as natural as breathing in and out, as well. That takes daily practice.

Today, I pray for peace for my community. We will celebrate the life of a dear man who passed away on Christmas Day. He leaves a family, a parish and our Diocesan community grieving his absence even as we will be celebrating his new life in the Resurrection of Christ. Today, I pray for my parish as some wonderful people meet with me, our wardens and sitting Vestry to discern a possible call to leadership in the church. Today, I pray for all those who have sought prayers from our community as they travel through times of crisis, celebrate good times and hope for the future. Today, I pray that God will give us all that serenity and strength to be the Body of the Son. I guess my final prayer is, may all our prayers, spoken and unspoken, be heard and answered...and most of all that God's will be done.

Today will be a busy day for God, and for us all. ...Thy will, dear Lord...and help me to see what that is today and every day.
...and on the head of a pin.

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