So I’ve been reading a lot on prayer lately, and thinking a lot about what it means to be pregnant. And you may have to put up with some ramblings here, but I think the two may be connected, especially for me right now.
A lot of people have a problem with prayer. Not with the idea so much as the execution of it. What is it? How do you do it? Is there a right or a wrong way to pray? Prayer is one of those things I believe that is so simple, we can’t accept it’s simplicity, so we complicate it. Plus, if we take it as simple and move into prayer on a regular basis we’re opening ourselves up to God and doing that inevitably causes change. And since change is uncomfortable, we complicate prayer to avoid it (but probably not consciously).
But that’s not my problem with prayer. My problem with prayer is that after many years of awesome times praying and feeling God with me on a day to day, sometimes moment to moment basis, God has not-so-conveniently been absent. Oh, not really absent as in not there. Just not perceivable by me. And that makes prayer seem dry, sometimes pointless, like I’m talking at the proverbial ceiling with as much result. Only that’s not actually true, there have been some results, sometimes after I’d stopped asking for them (like baby!).
I like the prayer that Richard Foster uses in his chapter “The Prayer of the Forsaken” in his book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. It says:
“GOD WHERE ARE YOU!? What have I done to make you hide from me? Are you playing cat and mouse with me, or are your purposes larger than my perceptions? I feel alone, lost, forsaken. You are the God who majors in revealing yourself. You showed yourself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. When Moses wanted to know what you looked like, you obliged him. Why them and not me me?
I am tired of praying. I am tired of asking. I am tired of waiting. But I will keep on praying and asking and waiting because I have nowhere else to go.
Jesus, you, too, knew the loneliness of the desert and the isolation of the cross. And it is through your forsaken prayer that I speak these words. –Amen” (p. 25).
And somehow, in praying that, in knowing that it’s okay to pray that (if you don’t believe me, read Psalm 22) I start to feel perhaps the slightest hint of the presence of God again in peace that comes to give me patience to keep waiting to see what this season is about. This season being my vocational transition from last year (see about page if you don’t know what I’m referring to).
And so how is pregnancy like prayer? In prayer, you surrender yourself to God and open yourself up to a relationship with God in ways you might not ever have expected. Being willing to be pregnant is a surrender of your body to the process of the pregnancy, a willingness to be out of control as things change and your stomach gets increasingly bigger. A willingness to be a temporary home for another human being, with whom you will have a long relationship, and the kind of relationship you can’t really anticipate, but only move into with a great deal of prayer, love and patience.
Prayer is totally natural and in many ways a bit of an alien experience in that you are conversing with a being that is totally other, and yet one who became flesh so that we could see God.
Pregnancy is totally natural and yet, when you think of having another person–a whole other person–inside of you, it seems rather alien and odd.
Both have become part of my every day life, much in the same way that breathing is. I’ve arrived at the point where I’ve begun to pray all the time, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, if it strikes me, I pray. No fancy language, no formal openings, and since it’s an ongoing conversation, no “amens.” I like this kind of prayer as I begin to find my rhythm again and rest in not knowing and not needing to know. In doing so, I’m beginning once again to, as Tim Jones, in his book The Art of Prayer, puts it “…find traces of the sacred in the corners of the corners of the everyday, even in the bland and repetitious” (p. 15).
These are my juxtapositions for the day…