Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fried Egg Prayers

"Simple Prayer is necessary, even essential to the spiritual life.  The only way we move beyond 'self-centered prayer' (if indeed we ever do) is by going through it, not by making a detour around it.
                                                                 --Richard Foster's
                                        Prayer:  Finding the Heart's True Home
What does a peacock have to do with simple prayer?  Because I believe the essence of being human, is asking the question, "what am I worth? do I matter? am I worthy?"  Questions a peacock has definitively answered!  He just is, in all of his glory.  I believe in our effort to "pray right" we believe our focus can only be about God in prayer.  After all we continually hear, "it's all about Him!"  If I make prayer about me then somehow I'm taking away His glory (as if I could).  Foster says, "but the practical effect of all this  internal soul-searching (is) to completely paralyze my ability to pray." 
Like Foster, I become so worried about whether I'm good enough, my desires pure enough, my motives clean enough that I stop just outside the doorway of His holy temple.  I may glance pensively in His direction, but then I quickly look down at my tear-stained, smudged apron.  Recently I heard a pastor ask our congregation why they come to church -- "because you're lonely?  you're marriage is failing?  for your prodigal child?"  In my mind I answered all of them with a resounding "yes!"  Before I finished my thought, he replied, "no!  because then you're making worship about what you get out of it.  And it's not about your needs, it's about worshiping the Holy God!"  My jaw dropped.
Did Jesus not say, "come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden?"  Beth Moore profoundly asks this same question in a different way.  "In the dark of night, down deep in your soul, do you believe God is a giver or a taker?" (rough paraphrase from The Inheritance study).  Wow.  I have to admit I have believed He takes.  He takes credit, he takes my will, he takes control, and He takes glory.   He takes freedom, too much time, and my talents to use up.   I can't keep anything worth holding.  He takes what matters to me.  We move again and again, best friends are killed, husbands go to war.
 Funny my mind goes to this goofy picture I made at three years old.  It's a scribbled face with what I call "fried egg eyes."  I offerred up this icon of myself to the only thing I knew that resembled God--Santa Claus.   My mom I guess had had enough of the security blanket I toted around.  Probably looked like my daughter's tattered afghan we affectionately called, "the Shred."  I still have the note I dictated to Santa; my first letter to him-- "Dear Santa, I don't have my blanket anymore and throw it out.  I will go to sleep and close my eyes.  Please bring me Tippee Tumbles and Baby First Step for Christmas.  I am a very good girl especially since I threw away my blanket.  It's fun to be a big girl and not a baby."  And with that blanket went my security and all I knew to be safe.  I guess He needed it more than I did.  
Foster concludes, "we will never have pure enough motives . . . to pray rightly.  We simply must set all these things aside and begin praying.  In fact, it is in the very act of prayer itself--the intimate, on-going interaction with God--that these matters are cared for in due time. . . What I'm trying to say is that God receives us just as we are and accepts our prayers just as they are.  in the same way that a small child cannot draw a bad picture so a child of God cannot offer a bad prayer.  But when we pray, genuinely pray, the real condition of our heart is revealed.  This is as it should be.  This is when God truly begins to work with us.  The adventure is just beginning." (Prayer, pgs. 10-11)

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