Efficacy of prayer changes us, thaws us

C. S. Lewis said that prayer might not change anything else, but he knew it changed him. Our prayer may not alter the circumstances that froze us solid, but it will start to melt our hearts, and that warmth will spread until we are supple enough to find a way forward.

I read this meditation (see below the line of asterisks in this post) a few days ago. I’ve often struggled with prayer. Why pray? It doesn’t change anything. You pray and pray and nothing changes. Oh, sure, there’s a miracle here and there, but it’s pretty random. And then there’s the notion some hold (I might add here, though, that I’m not among those that hold it!) that God’s already got it all figured out already, so even more so I might rationally ask, why pray?

Well, there’s such a thing as faking it till you make it. I’ve heard it in various circles, phrased more or less delicately or poetically, my chosen phrase being one of the LESS delicate ways of phrasing it, but in my humble opinion, no less true for its bluntness. What it means is simply this: you pray at first because you should. It’s the right thing to do. It’s not really about what’s in it for you, and fuzzy feelings of consolation for you or your loved ones. Maybe your momma told you it was the right thing to do. Maybe you’ve got this niggling sense that something’s missing in your life, and you’re partly to blame, having dropped the ball somewhere. Maybe that niggling sense is a vague sense of guilt, if your upbringing leads you down that particular pathway. And sure, maybe it’s hopefulness that this time, maybe, just maybe something WILL happen. Maybe it will “work” or “take.” You pray. And, if you’re diligent, you keep praying. Because, after all, it is the right thing to do, obvious results or none. He is God, you are creature, how can you keep from praying, when considered in a certain sense?

And maybe something happens “out there.” And just as likely nothing noticeable does. But you look back, and ever so subtly, you realize, “hey, wait a minute? Something DID happen…to me? Hmm.”

Our circumstances may or may not change for the prayer, but often as not, God changes US in the act of praying. For me anyway, usually not recognized except ever so subtly in hindsight, but always (when finally recognized!!!) with tremendous gratitude for that recognized touch of God’s presence and action in my life.

Confession time? I haven’t been praying worth a hoot lately. But the cool thing is, that I’ve got this part of me that “knows” that God’s waiting for me. It (feeling drawn to prayer again like a moth to a flame) won’t happen overnight. Nope. I’ll need to fake it several times before I make it. Well, no. Let me rephrase that. God makes it so I get it is really a better way of putting it, and I have to wait for that getting of it, however long it takes, however impatient I may become. It isn’t I who make it, but all God, and that’s just it…”me” has to be patient enough to wait on God and take what I get. That lurking memory thing though of how it can be when I do my part in maintaining a relationship knows though that what I get will be enough, and then some in abundance, even if it isn’t what I initially wished and prayed for.

What’s troubling me though is which direction shall I turn to recommit to this prayer thing? I haven’t picked up a bible with any seriousness in a good long while. I think that may just be the ticket this time around. I’ve often been greatly blessed by a contemplative, centering prayer style. I probably haven’t done lectio divina “pure” and correctly, but I think I might try a modified form of lectio divina again. Reading mostly for meditation/contemplation, partly for content/meditation. Lectio Divina is S-L-O-O-O-O-W reading, almost literally chewing the cud of the Word. Yes, I think that might just be the ticket for me at this juncture of my life.

By golly and by joe, I think I see another spiritual discipline post forming. The other thing I’ve recently happened upon is a priest friend’s Advent discipline. He seems to be taking the discipline of blogging every day during Advent. He’s had some interesting, eye-opening posts, so I think I’ll follow along there. That might take care of the paralysis of where to flop open the dear old Holy Book for said cogitations. I’ll follow the lectionary passages he’s reflecting on. Here’s a link to his blog if you’d like to follow along, too! http://tosapriest.blogspot.com/

Okay. Lately my good intentions have been just that…good intentions. Off the computer now, and off to do some prayer. I’m at the point where I miss it, and at the same ironic point, I’m getting used to being without it. And that scares me a little, to have become so casual and apathetic about it. I am neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm – the worst place to be spiritually. Ugh. I don’t want to go back to that point again. The memory maybe doesn’t fade, but it whispers more and more quietly to my soul. I need to crane my ear and listen more closely…because the words are SO worth hearing.

Come Lord Jesus, come.

Emmanuel, God with us – be known to us. (to me? May I ask for your presence that forthrightly?) Amen.

******************************************

Forward Day by Day Meditation for 11/22/08

Day in History: SATURDAY, November 22 (Clive Staples Lewis)


James 5:13-20.Are any among you suffering? They should pray.

My car was covered with a thick, opaque frost this morning. When I went out early to drive to work, it looked as inviting as a block of ice on wheels. I turned it on, cranked up the defroster, and went back inside for another cup of coffee.


When I came back out, the frost had melted, I could hear the murmur of early morning radio, and it seemed as if the car was purring happily. What a difference five minutes makes.


I think prayer works like this. There are times when we are shut down, frozen over with grief, with shock, with anger. From the outside, it feels as if we may never be ourselves again. Prayer is like turning on the defroster. Little by little, if we can stay with it and not lose heart, we will thaw from the inside out.


C. S. Lewis said that prayer might not change anything else, but he knew it changed him. Our prayer may not alter the circumstances that froze us solid, but it will start to melt our hearts, and that warmth will spread until we are supple enough to find a way forward.

Available at http://www.forwardmovement.org/archive.cfm by selecting date “11/22/08”

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