As a follow up to this past Sunday morning class here are a few thoughts on prayer:
So many times I allow my prayers to be so one-sided. It’s almost like a fast-food “drive-through” where I speak out a request and I receive something that may or may not be what I thought I was requesting. Oh yes, and the quicker the prayer/order is filled the better! And the customer is always right.
I remember reading about a woman who expressed the hardest part of prayer for her and most people is the silence. I, too, sense that.
Sometimes it’s simply silence. Silence alone.
Within those moments I am still, quiet and expectant. If I am quiet long enough sometimes, I experience an urging, a thought, an inclination toward some action, though with no audible voice telling me, “Don’t be afraid. Here’s the answer you’ve been looking for and waiting on. Just do this, or do that…” No, it rarely happens quickly, but it does happen. I sense a leading to do something: to change my thinking about something, to contact someone, to give something up, to take some other action, to love someone more.
And sometimes it’s simply silence. Silence alone.
When I think deeply about it, the God who created the universe deserves patience while I slowly become more aware of His revelation through the life of prayer. It takes patience and alertness.
I am touched by this insight from Mother Teresa on Prayer:
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” –Mother Teresa
There are several good resources on Prayer. Here are a couple I highly recommend:
Prayer : Does it Make Any Difference? / Philip Yancey
Too Busy NOT to Pray : Slowing Down to be With God / Bill Hybels
From Sunday, June 22 Step 3: Surrender Class leader: Russell Burnett
I wanted to follow up on something I tried or intended to convey to the group last Sunday about surrender, Step Three.
I got sidetracked a bit trying to expand on this part of my notes:
Selective surrender is not surrender, trying to find an “easier, softer way”
“Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.” P. 59, Alcoholics Anonymous
We may not see the true state [of] and [our] usefulness [to others in] … the areas of our lives that seem not to need God’s help the same thinking that reasoned us into addiction is the same tool we use to run all of our lives – the 12th Step suggests we apply “these principles (including Step Three) in all our affairs.”
The point is, in many areas I tend to think that I understand what I’m doing and I don’t need to surrender because I’m doing just fine.
I tried to suggest that even in what seem to be the simplest, mindless activities, like putting the top on the toothpaste, it could be possible that I can improve and I may really not know what I could be doing differently or less harmfully to others.
For example, many people mount the toilet paper the wrong way. Though I do it the right way, of course, this topic has been discussed, joked about, thought about, and even resented to an astonishing degree in my life.
Whether I see that I need God’s help really comes into play for me with regard to how I drive, how I respond to unexpected questions (my default is to react, not respond, and to do it defensively to some degree), what tone of voice I use in various situations, how much time I devote to study of scripture or to quiet time, what work tasks I prioritize and how do I feel about and express feelings about that, whether I am compassionate when I observe or learn of the failings of others, whether I dwell on the challenges of my life to the exclusion of gratitude for the vast predominance of blessings, etc?
The mind that keeps telling me that using is a good idea, that “stinkin’ thinkin’”, is the same mind that I rely on to guide me in the other areas of my life.
I just don’t think I can assume that my mind shifts gears from dysfunctional, addict thinking to reliable, Godly thinking as smoothly as I seem to have assumed it can and does.
Am I willing to pray for willingness to surrender control over all of such things in my life? Am I willing to pray for insight to accept that I need help all the time in everything to do God’s will? Do I somehow seem to live as if asking to be shown His will is a sign of weakness, must it be something I’m not comfortable doing?
On the continuum from picking up to using to the toothpaste there is a point where I become more and more incapable of living optimally (of doing God’s will). I’m suggesting that my mind is cannot be relied upon to determine where on that continuum I need His help.
How much simpler it is to ask Him to help me with everything, to surrender all of my life, not just my train wrecks.