I've been yanking my arms up close to my sides like this until all that's left are useless, no-reach hands, saying, "God is not a T-Rex" for months. I need the tee shirt. Then I turn my hands into huge biting jaws like He might really want to turn me into a Divine snack and Raarrrrr!
The visual is hilarious and the statement is so true. I pull it out when it seems like someone has reached their belief limit. They're looking for the elevator speech God vs. the escalator or heaven forbid Mountain Hike chat God.
"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear." Isa. 59:1
I remember distinctly last year praying: "Lord: I'm all done underestimating You." He was kind not to laugh like when a toddler brings a present they made--He was thrilled at my utter sincerity. I meant it so much I pray it to this day when I remember. Lord, I'm all done underestimating You.
Prayer is a lot more like sowing seed than ready-made miracle-grow forest. We sometimes get disheartened because "it" doesn't happen the way we think it should or in the time-frame that we believe it will. Hope deferred makes the heart sick: so stop deferring Hope.
I think we've all heard some descriptions about what prayer really is.
In the early days of our Father-Son Bible study, Mitchell's first one, I believe, I said, "Okay, who wants to close us out in prayer?" And Mitchell--totally not a T-Rex--waves his hands high: Me, me, me!
I said, cool: Hit it.
And he said, unflinching: "What is that?"
And I loved it so much. I said it's a simple heartfelt chat with God, like, "Hey, Lord: thank You for Bible study and teaching us Your ways. Sorry we're so dim part of the time. Amen." My favorite is Holy Spirit, Help--I love to walk into meetings and drop that like the mic on the conference table and smile. I have a lot of short prayer riffs, like, Hey, Lord: love never fails, remember? So Love Me! Hey Lord, Thanks. Hey Lord, what am I forgetting? Hey, Lord: where did I park?
Do you want to know my secret? I started doing it for real instead of not doing it and wondering if it would work. I started believing it worked instead of looking for all the ways maybe it wasn't.
I've heard prayer described as telling God what He tells you to tell Him or finding out what He wants to do and asking Him to do it. Scripture says if you ask anything in accordance with His will, it's your's like ta-da--but the trick to there is the discovery of His heart--that's where a process called living into revelatory prayer comes into play. I know: His heart is for us. He has been that way with me for years and years.
It also says His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways: and that He knows the plans (closer, really, to purposes) He has for us are to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a future and a hope. So maybe it is working and we're just in between getting its. Let's enjoy the process like recess.
I think to pray and to play are one letter away from each other--on purpose.
Remember my theory that the greatest theologians among us are maybe like second graders in God? Same goes with our best Pray-ers. Popcorn prayers, Prayer warriors (often unfortunately a little more like prayer worriers), intercessory prayers, soaking prayers: a lot of us can take ourselves and what we are "getting" way too seriously and I think, really, God is kind and He shows up and He just likes it when we remember that even though He is invisible and He doesn't see things the way we see them: He is an ever-present Help. He knows everyone and everything.
Like, when was the last time you just asked Him for Comfort? What are you waiting for?
I believe that He is working whether my receptors are working or not; whether I pray perfectly or not and whether I heard Him right or feel Him or spot Him or not. He has a catch-all called Romans 8:28 which says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." My wife calls it: with Him, it is pretty much all Plan A.
I try to remember to approach Him like a little child: wide-eyed, a little off-balance and excited to see what's next. Imaginative. Hopeful.
Anyone who has prayed with or been prayed for by me in the last number of years I believe would describe it as--well, kind of fun. Play or Pray. Why not both?
I ran into an old friend in the numbers game the other day at lunch and I said, "How do you not lean on your own understanding when you do what you do?" Because in commercial real estate, something I've been doing since the Spring of 1990, that's so often my temptation.
Hey, Lord: I've got this. Thanks for doing what I want You to do, Amen: Un-great prayer.
Jesus did what He saw the Father doing. We ought to ask Him what He means by that.
Great Prayer: Lord, what do you mean by that?
And we watch, listen, wait, trust, discover.
And I think we agreed, my numbers pal and I: the question how do you let Him do what He wants to do when you're pretty sure you already know what to do is convicting but if we are not careful, the answer we almost never really bring to Him for His view is even more convicting. So maybe we start to stop asking altogether and our "God is good.." sounds a little hollow because we live in a land of forgetfulness--forget fullness...
When we are instructed in Proverbs 3 to trust Him with all of our heart, not to lean on our own understanding and to acknowledge Him in all our ways so that He will direct our paths--we are like, raise the bar why-don't-You? But I think it is still just a simple invitation to an abiding relationship (see John 17, Jesus' prayer-model.)
So I'd been telling Him for weeks I was all done underestimating HIm.
Then I started saying and while we are on the subject, I'm all done underestimating myself and everyone around me, too.
Holy dangerous awesome prayer, Batman.
You know, so, help me go concrete with that, God!
I try to treat prayer like a research assignment. Yup, no. Maybe. Huh? I'm lost.
William James wrote, "compared with what we ought to be, we are only half awake." And the same could be said of prayer. Like when I asked a couple weeks ago, Is the Word boring? Do we think--or are we tempted to think--prayer is, too? Useless, powerless. It is ok if we think it is for awhile; but it is so much fun when you step out of that belief and into the multi-colored coat of let's just try it and see what happens. Besides, the Book tells us we don't have because we don't ask. And, man, I don't want to have that hanging over my head. Raaaaar.
So we are coming out of the longest walk/climb of the summer in Steamboat a few weeks ago and there is the Sheriff and the Deputy and the Forest Ranger and the scared family.
So we limp over and ask, what's going on.
Sixteen year old girl was supposed to be home four hours before. I told the Sheriff we'd been further up the hike than anyone that day, so maybe we had come across her. They pulled out their phones and they showed us a picture of her. We hadn't crossed paths. Beautiful kid. UG.
They're starting to gather the search party and I looked at the girl's dad and said what I almost always say in those situations, now, because I learned it at a conference and I tried it on and it fit, "I'm part of our medical ministry team back home: would you mind if I prayed for you before we take off?"
He said please. And everyone leaned in.
I almost never bow my head when I pray: I try to keep my eyes open and stay alert to where He may be moving. Plus a lot of us have been taught that's how you're supposed to pray and while I do both, I sometimes see better with my eyes open.
I prayed something like, Hey Lord, You know precisely where she is. And I said some other real holy stuff for sure and just as I got to the part in the prayer maybe forty seconds in where I say: "I just ask that at the sound of my voice (RISK=FAITH!!!) You'd help us, find her and bring her home", the deputy not fifteen yards away on the radio says, literally, as if on cue, to the sound of my voice in echo: "We found her, we are bringing her home."
And all our eyes got really wide and the girl's dad almost broke me and the girl's gramma looked at me and never batted an eye when she said, "That worked."
Dang right, gramma!
So get your prayer on, why don't you? Geesh. And share with me what you're getting, wudja?