A friend of mine from another faith tradition questioned, not critically, the role of prayer in my life. Is it for intercession, praise, meditation? My answer was "Yes". All of thee above.
Most of what I have experienced and practiced is deal making with God, "If you get me out of this one I will be so good from now on." Then I read some Sadhu Sundar Sing. Read what he has to say about prayer.
When we see a crane standing motionless on the side of a tank or lake, we may suppose from his attitude that he is musing on the glory of God or the excellent quality of the water. But no such thing! He stand there motionless for hours, but the moment he catches sight of a frog or small fish he springs upon it and gulps it down. Just such is the attitude and method of many with regard to prayer and religious meditation. Seated by the shore of the boundless ocean of God, they give no thought to His majesty and love, or to His divine nature that cleanses from sin and satisfies the hungry soul, but are wrapped up in the thought of acquiring some specially desired object, by means of which they may more fully indulge in the delights of this fleeting world. Thus they turn away from the fountain of true peace, and, immersing themselves in the fading joys of this world, with them also die and pass away.
Equaly moving is CS Lewis's response to prayer in "Shadow Lands". When asked if prayer changes things, Lewis (played by Sr. Anthony Hopkins)replies " I don't know, but I know it changes me."
I have lived for so long without the kind of prayer that changes me. Without the kind of prayer that cleanses me from sin. I dare not live that kind of life any longer.
God used suffering to change me. Go figure! Suffering drove me to my knees. Actually it drove me straight to the ground, prostrate. It drove me to the top of a parking garage where I could be as vocal and I wanted to be. I remember the pain in the prayers. I remember the desparation. Most would want to forget that kind of pain, but I do not. Paul wanted to know Christ in the power of his resurrection and in the fellowship of his sufferings. It is within the pain we come to know God and God meets us. Not because that's the only place to meet us, but because its often the first or only place were we invite God to present.
Do I want the suffering to go away? Yes. Do I want the memory to leave? No. If so, I am afraid I will abandon the kind of prayer that truly changes me.
One day, after such prayer, I got up and heard the voice " So, will this last after things have calm down, or is this just for now?" I was cut to the quick. I can honestly say, its has continued, but not because I have made a deal with God, but because I can not go back now that I have tasted God's presence and power in such prayer.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Posted by George Atkins at 12:16 PM