Prayer (week 4)

16 Aug

Mark Batterson starts the third part of his book “Circle Maker” off with a story that challenges us to ‘think long’. He alludes to the biblical metaphor of planting/sowing. We live in a time where we want instant results and we get them. If I want to know who won the Braves game or how many people live in India, the answer is at my fingertips. If I want a car at this moment, I can go and take out a loan and ‘buy’ it (although ‘borrow’ would be a more correct term). Our society demands instant gratification. We bring this demand into our spiritual life. We say a prayer and expect that if God is truly God he will answer it immediately. God is not google. There are times when He instantly answers a prayer. But this is not the norm. Prayer is not a formula for getting results. Batterson alludes to Daniel who prayed fervently when he knew the answer was 70 years away. We don’t like to think that prayer can be long and boring. We like mountaintop experiences–when heaven invades earth and we feel the rush of God’s presence. We are addicted to “fits and starts” as Eugene Peterson says. In light of this, he titled his book on discipleship, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” If that is true of our apprenticeship to Jesus then it is certainly true of prayer. All we can do is be faithful to pray in the direction of the result we seek.

I was talking with someone from Center City last week about the tension of not being where you want to be. He is in a spot where he can clearly define what success is and pray for it specifically. But right now he is fighting to get to the mountaintop that seems so close, yet so far. I told him to imagine there are 2 guys that want to get the summit of Mt. Everest. One guy trains for 2 years to prepare his body. He spends thousands of hours training and preparing for the climb. He then starts the impossibly difficult journey to the top. He fights weather conditions that are unspeakable. He has to postpone portions of the climb due to storms. Then one day he makes it to the top–the highest point on earth. The other guy is incredibly wealthy and pays for someone to helicopter him to the top (this is impossible but go with me–it’s a story). He too stands on the summit with guy #1. Who get’s more satisfaction out of the experience? Who does it mean more to? The answer is obvious. The “destination” or answer to prayer is often our focal point. Batterson says in several of his other books, “God cares less about where you’re going than who you’re becoming.” The destination means nothing without the journey. Is there something that you’ve been praying for for a long time and haven’t gotten the answer yet? Join the club. Keep praying. God is taking you on a journey and the vehicle is prayer. The moment you stop praying you halt the process. God uses prayer to stitch our hearts to his. It is a moment by moment tuning of our consciousness to God. As we pray we realize we are a part of God’s universe–He is not a nice part of ours. We are caught up in His story (I purposefully refrained from using HIS-tory). Our story is a subplot in his narrative. Keep praying toward the result you seek but know that by the time you get there you’ll be a different person–and that’s the point.

“Prayer isn’t something we do with our eyes closed; we pray with our eyes wide-open. Prayer isn’t a sentence that begins with ‘Dear Jesus’ and ends with ‘Amen’…All of life is meant to be a prayer, just as all of life is meant to be an act of worship.” (Batterson)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: