Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Challenge of Prayer

One of the challenges I have as a writer is remembering to live the stories I'm telling.

I guess you could call it practicing what I preach, but it's not really about being an example. It's not about what other people look at me and see; not at its core, anyway. (I believe that mattters, to an extent. I believe consistency is credibility for anyone trying to put God's word out there in a new way. And yes, I want you to see me living a godly life as best I know how, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not the priority.)

It's about remembering to stay in touch with my life source. Remembering to open myself for Him to fill me. Remembering to seek the divine when it's easy to get lost in the pen of what I believe are inspired words.

Case in point: my work in progress.

I'm writing Prayse - the act of honoring God with our prayer. Cuz prayer is one of those things...well, you know. And I'm diving into all this deep theology (have you read Recess? Think completely radically different from that; Prayse is really heavy into theology, Bible, and familiar stories). What I'm discovering is this beautiful, incredible, powerful prayer that I think we've completely lost touch with. I mean, have you seen the prayers these people - these fathers of our faith - have prayed? What happened to prayer like that?

I feel like too often, we pray just to say we've been praying. It's become almost trite. And completely powerless. Most of us pray and hesitate; we don't believe God is actually going to do anything but maybe pat us on the head and applaud us for trying, then go about doing what He planned to do in the first place.

I've been focused on this phrase: Pray and expect something to happen because yes, God works like that.

Have we lost that faith? I fear too many of us have.

I know for a long time, I did.

But it's challenging because in the midst of the study, the writing, the re-writing, the drafting, the editing, the precision of getting the words just right to write a powerful message with God's pen, it's easy to forget to stop and actually pray. It's easy to get to the end of a day and think, "I know I've had prayer on my mind a lot, so I must have actually prayed" then get to the end of the week and realize how thirsty I am.

So I have to stop and pray. I have to carve out that time just for me and Him. That space to open up and be honest with my God, to talk with Him, to hear from Him, to be fed and nourished and energized.

And then fight the urge to share those prayers. Many of them, I write. It helps me to focus. And as a writer, the temptation is always to put everything out there. Some of them are good. Man, they're good! But like Mary, I need those things of God that I hold secretly in my heart, that are Him just for me.

That's where I'm at these days - searching for the balance between what I do for God and getting in the discipline of just Him and me. Learning to speak about communion without forgetting to remember what it means when I take it. Learning to write without forgetting to let my own words sink in. Learning to study and expose the power of prayer without neglecting to pray.

I'm glad to say that it seems as days go by, it's getting easier. It's more routine to pray than to write, to study than to speak, to worship than to analyze. But I still have my days.

And let me just add this: the Prayse project, the study, working through the chapters - it is already changing the way I pray. That's pretty cool, too. More on that tomorrow.

How about you? Are there things you do that God has put so heavily on your heart that you get so busy doing them that you forget to stop and live them? How would life be different if you were living it?

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