Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Prayer: Rest for the Spiritually Immature

Letting go is hard. First you send your kids to kindergarten. Then you send them to get the mail down the street. (Mailboxes are down the street in my neighborhood. It's weird.)

And if they've succeeded at those, you send them into the kitchen to refill your coffee. "Not too much creamer!" But they always add too much.

Then, before you know it, you're sending your 16-year-old to the store to get cream cheese because, well, your cake needs cream cheese frosting. And as you hand her your debit card, you whisper the pin number even though you're in the privacy of your own home. And then she says, "You know mom, you really should change that pin number - it's lame," and you say, "Well that's my business. Now drive safely. Precious cargo! Oh, and treat yourself to a mascara!"

And, of course, you pray for her safety. After all, should something horrible happen... heaven forbid... all because you wanted (desperately had to have!) cream cheese?

Then, snap! They're getting on planes to go to places like New York City. Without you. And you pray some more. Maybe even read some scripture about God's protection. You might even alternate scripture with ice cream. Or in one hand you've got the Bible App open on your phone, and in the other hand you have a spoon - and it's stirring brownie batter.

Then there's that friend. That friend whose kid also went to New York City. And you come to find out that she didn't JUST pray (as if God thinks people are "just" praying when they - out of all the choices this world has to offer - choose HIM to discuss matters with), this girl prayed and (AND) fasted.

Yes, I'm talking about MY friend. (Though we all have one.) She prayed on top of fasting. Fasted on top of praying. Whichever came first, my initial thought wasn't: "Amen, sister!" It was more like: "Gosh I'm pathetic." And then when I found out her praying and fasting happened during Holy week, my next thought was more of the same. Only this time around, for no particular reason, I gave it a robotic sound: "I. Am. Pathetic." (Whose personal thoughts have robot accents, anyway?)

Now, of course, in NO way am I knocking fasting. Fasting is awesome. It helps people zero in on their relationship with God during a time of need or grief or worship. You could fast anything - food, TV, Stick Hero. (Try it. So fun.) But in this case it's food.

So what's the problem? Well, because in all my spiritual immaturity and in all my, let's face it, yes-I-watched-the-entire-performance-of-Madonna-on-Jimmy-Fallon (twice) ways, I see myself getting more excited about the few pounds I might lose rather than closeness I might gain with God.

(See? Pathetic. But don't get judgy. Remember: they say when you point a finger at someone, three are pointed right back at you.)

Oh, but alas! Just when I feel like ditching prayer all together, I read something that draws me back to the one I was tempted to run from. Something fabulously true about prayer, both the fasting and non-fasting kind:

"This is the deep mystery of prayer, that we can just pour out the fullness of our heart... and know that he hears, he loves, he understands, he receives; and he separates from our prayer all that is imperfect, ignorant, and wrong, and presents the rest, with the incense of the great High Priest, before the throne on high; and our prayer is heard, accepted, and answered in Jesus' name." A.B. Simpson

And I can breathe again. PRAY again. After all, I have a feeling sending my child to NYC is just the beginning of the many letting-go's up ahead. Sniff, sniff.




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