Sometimes I just cringe when people ask me 'Have you prayed about it?'. As I sit on the balcony, watching the last of light slip under the sky, the palm trees take on a silhouette glow, grill smells, cool breeze enters, I breathe easier, San Diego hot day is passed...
The praying question causes me to constrict my breath, hold it and freeze. I feel I have much to prove and a list of duties to perform before God.
“Have you prayed about it?” is the Christian's favorite trump card.People talk about prayer like it's some safety net from disaster, like some “ouch proof” thing, some shield from pain, bad decisions and people's lame choices and broken hearts. It's like the tag you read on boots, “water resistant” It seems prayer is correlated with pain resistance or at least the prosperity gospel at the very least.
And yet God knows my heart and how I pray-how my being turns to Him. I don't want to blame God for my un-answered prayers and people's idiotic choices. “How did you let this happen?” I prayed! But God DID 'let' it happen??? God weeps over sin, pain, betrayal, He makes beauty from ashes, but I certainly don't think He ever desires pain. Love always seeks good. God seeks good.
Assuming prayer will block me from a broken heart, from health failures, from natural disasters and from traumatic events is not entirely accurate. I am not saying prayer 'can't', I'm saying it 'may not'.
I think we (well me) obsess about praying for the right career, the right job, where to live, move, be geographically, who to date, who to marry, what school to go to, what education, what to study, how much money we should make, even what to buy and not to buy. I pray for people, for family, for friends and I pray hard.
I often forget to pray over bondage and addictions. I forget to pray about the stuff that is actually eating me alive. It's hard. I pray for the right car, the right job, and the right grade while simultaneously freaking out. But maybe that's not what it's about.
On another level I could pray that I would hate what is evil and cling to what is good like Romans 12:9 talks about. I could pray that my being leans into that. I could pray to want that. I could pray that I would lean into God because he is good despite the pain I see and experience in the world.
One of my favorite quotes on prayer is by Ghandi. He says, “Prayer is not asking, it is the longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
I do believe prayer is asking but I also believe longing is a deep form of pleading, asking, wanting, desiring in our spirits deep inside of us. It's me turning from darkness to light. It's me realizing God is in the room with me. It's me hating what is evil and clinging, holding onto good with my very last breath.
That's when God runs towards you.
It doesn't matter how far you are or what kind of bondage He saw that .00001 turn to light. He saw the choice in that hour to not fill your life with the empty. And even while you are filling life with emptiness, He caught your eye. You blinked. Your eye wanted light. Your eyes screamed freedom. He caught you looking at Him for a split second.
That's all it took and now he is running after you. Luke 15:20 says, “But when he was still a great way off, His Father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” or in the Message, “When he was still long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him...” I won't move into a theological discussion or exegetical study on this passage for it's a parable and that is not my point. But the message is powerful.
He is running towards me.
And He is running towards you.
I think that is prayer. One look towards home and God sees you before you pack your bags. He is already running. Him running
So while the question “Have you prayed about it?” sometimes drives me crazy, I will probably be guilty of asking you that question. Just know I'm not asking it so that you can check it off your list, or so that you can be guaranteed pain-proof. I'm not asking to make sure you are still a Christian and have avoided the latest cult. I'm not asking to sound religious or even spiritual. I'm asking because I know what happens when I lean into God, when my heart stumbles down a dirt road towards Him.
He runs towards me. And that changes everything.