Prayer.

I’m trying to get the house back into a prayer routine. Usually the attitude is “Well, we’ve tried to do the routine thing, and it just doesn’t work for us, so we should stop trying.” It’s true that we have failed to find a regular prayer time that sticks. But I don’t think that means we should stop trying.

I don’t really like praying. I don’t like it because…I’m not sure why. Because I’m resentful. Because sometimes people use it as a cop-out. “I’ll pray for you” instead of taking action. Sometimes it bores me. Sometimes I don’t like the way other people pray. Sometimes I think, we’re talking to no one. There’s no one there. Sometimes I think, Why should I talk to you? Sometimes I think, I have nothing to say to you. Sometimes it’s just uncomfortable because of the gargantuan trust issues that surround my “personal relationship” with God. When are we gonna work this out, I imagine him asking me. I imagine myself being silent in reply, not in petulance. I just don’t know what to say. Sometimes I do know what to say. Sometimes we have a conversation. But most of the time, it doesn’t make me feel happy of myself. Most of the time, I don’t feel like it.

Despite that, I notice the tenor of the house and the relationships with it tend to deteriorate when we don’t make an effort to pray. In order for this to work, in order for us to be effective, we have to pray. If this house is for God and being his hands and a feet, if we truly want to hold our hands to the wounds of a bleeding and dying world, if that’s what we really want, then we have to occasionally talk to the one whom we claim to serve. There’s just no getting around that.

Which is why it bugs me when I say “Hey, we should pray!” and the response is apathetic at best. Or someone says they don’t feel like it. You don’t feel like it? I’M the one who doesn’t feel like it. I’m not suggesting we pray because I like doing it. I’m not suggesting we pray because I feel like it. I never feel like it. Ever. Spiritual disciplines (and in fact, any kind of discipline) aren’t done because the person doing them feels like it all the time. Every time I suggest prayer, I am suggesting it accompanied with an internal groan of “do-we-have-to.”

Praying is like doing maintenance. You have to do it or the whole thing will fall apart. Slowly, but surely. And we might not feel like doing it. But that’s really besides the point.

Here’s a poem Micah wrote about prayer – I don’t necessarily agree with all of it but it definitely gave me food for thought.

 
What A Fool
Micah Bournes

In the name of Jesus, Amen.

“Do you feel something?
Something, tingling, in your stomach?
No?”

“No, but I appreciate the prayer.”
And I meant that,
I really did.
It was a kind gesture,
an expression of sympathy and I believe in God and all but
did she really expect something to change right then?
Abra-Cadabra-Amen be healed on the spot
my God what is wrong with this girl?
What a fool.
What a fool to think my pain would (snap) disappear.
What a fool to think her prayers were any different
than the dozens, hundreds, thousands of faithful saints who’ve
laid hands on me and rebuked
this disease IN THE NAME OF JESUS!

What a fool.
What a fool to pray with expectation,
like she actually thought God would hear and respond.
It’s these kind of Christians that make us all look crazy.
You know, the ones with faith,
too much faith,
the ones convinced that God grants supernatural power.
The ones who look like fools for Christ and don’t mind what anyone thinks,
the ones whose prayers go unanswered yet they keep praying.
Keep hoping,
keep asking
Do you feel?
The ones who feel.
The ones who know God with more than their mind,
the ones who don’t waste time  picking fights with atheists but go to war on
their knees. The ones who lean not on their own understanding.
The ones  who serves a God that doesn’t bow to human rationale,
but chooses the foolish to shame the wise,
the weak to shame the strong,
those who are not to bring to nothing those who are,
and how far  I have come.

After 4 years of theological training,
constant reading to appease my philosophical cravings
my thoughts about God are, intelligent,
my belief is a kind unbelievers can respect,
not the ignorance of, simple faith,
not the type to get you mocked,
persecuted,
crucified.
My religion is safe.

And I wonder, how I got so lost,
And I wonder, who’s the fool after all,
the one who prays, the one who waits,
the one who dies believing God is on his way,
or the one who prays, never expecting him to come?

[from the book of Celtic Daily Prayer – my favourite book of nightly prayer.]

I will lie down and sleep in peace
for You alone, Lord
make me dwell in safety.

Christ without sin
Christ of wounds
Christ of the poor
Christ of tears
I am placing my soul and body
under thy guarding this night.

Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm
Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm
Let all the tumult within me cease
Enfold me, O Lord, in your peace.

As the fountain in the garden
as the candle in the dark
as the treasure in the coffer
as the manna in the ark

As the music at the banquet
as the stamp unto the seal
as the medicine to the fainting
as the wine-cup to the meal

As the ruby in the setting
as the honey in the comb
as the light within the lantern
as the father in the home

As the sunshine in the heavens,
as the image in the glass
as the fig within the fruit-tree
as the dew upon the grass

So Lord, art thou to me.

My dear ones, O God, bless Thou and keep,
in every place where they are.

I shall not lie down tonight with sin,
nor shall sin
nor sin’s shadow
lie down with me.

Be it on thine own beloved arm,
O God of grace,
that I in peace shall waken.

The peace of God
be over me to shelter me,

under me to uphold me,

about me to protect me,

behind me to direct me,

ever with me to save me.

the peace of all peace
be mine this night.

In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

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