“Okay, Lord, what will my ministry be?”
It was 1982 and my spiritual director, Paul had just left my office at the hospital. His wisdom for me was that at some point in the future, God would reveal my ministry – or life purpose. But I was youthful and impetuous. I was not going to wait to find out!
“Write – teach – pray”.
Those were the words that flashed across my mind no sooner had I uttered the words above. So I was to spend the rest of my life serving PAPA by writing, teaching and praying! Writing was a native ability with which I had been blessed. Teaching came naturally to me as the expression of the primary motivational gift of the Spirit of prophecy. Praying was something I would have to learn. Not that I didn’t pray; but I needed to understand prayer as a conversation with God that might not always be a dialog.
I was also to learn that prayer – genuine prayer, is not for the faint of heart. It’s tough and sometimes fraught with silence on the the other end of the conversation. Most often silence accompanies life’s darkest moments. When the “dark night of the soul” arrives, we want answers. And most often, silence is the answer! A silence that leaves us panting for breath with tear-stained faces and twinges of anger we’re too fearful to confess.
I came to learn less about what prayer is, and much more about what it is not. Jesus taught us to pray what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13). We repeat it as if that’s what we’re supposed to do. When in reality, the prayer He shared with those gathered about Him was a model for prayer – not the prayer itself. But that’s for another post on another Sunday as directed.
Here’s some of what I’ve learned about prayer. . .
SILENCE is golden! Silence in PAPA’s presence is perfect prayer! Most of us have been in conversation with others who all talk at once. No one can distinguish what’s being said or whose saying it. I find it one of life’s most frustrating experiences. Imagine how God feels when He can’t get a word in edgewise because we’re running at the mouth. He has something significant to say and we just babble on ignoring the nudge that quietly says – be still!
My spiritual journey brought me to the point where I would begin to say something and PAPA put the following sound on my lips . . . “Shhhh”. A wee bit intimidating to be shushed by God! Told to be quiet, when all through Sunday School I was taught to tell Him my needs, wants, troubles, joys, sorrows, and everything else I could think of. Yet, He asked me to be still – to quiet not just my mind, but my lips! Don’t talk – just listen!
PRAYER is the art of listening. PAPA knows our needs and knows what it is we ought be praying. When we are quiet and listening; we can discern via the Spirit what we ought pray for and about. All too often, we pray out of our humanity, and our humanity can’t fathom the depths of God’s Spirit and His will. Jesus told us that we don’t have because we don’t ask; but also we pray amiss. We ‘miss the mark’ in what and how we pray. When we quiet ourselves – mind, body and spirit; He will lead us to say with words what is His perfect will.
LET GOD be GOD. I recently saw a social media post in which the person asked for prayer. No problem there. But that wasn’t the end of the post. The person went on at length telling everyone how to pray as if commanding us and PAPA God to produce the outcome the person wanted. My irritation with that particular approach no doubt prompted this Sunday Series on prayer.
It’s easy to tell God what we want; less so what we need. It’s also easy to command God to do it “our way” – nearly impossible to simply say, “Your will be done – not mine!” Yet ultimately that’s the perfect prayer of submission. Dangerous – yes! Our humanity may not like that to which we have submitted. Pleasing in His sight? Absolutely!
HONESTY is what He wants. We don’t have to clean up before we close the door on our prayer closet. PAPA wants us to come as we are, with all of our imperfect humanity on display. He wants us to share our feelings about what it is that troubles us. Not with thee’s and thou’s but with the open – honest – authentic expression of a person unafraid to be who she is in the presence of the Divine majesty of our Almighty Father God! He knows what we think and feel, but also knows that in the simple act of being who we are in His presence leads us into a willingness to let Him be God.
As I write this, I’m reminded of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s great piece of music – Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say) from “Jesus Christ Superstar”. We don’t know what Jesus prayed in the garden but we do know he sweat blood doing so. Tim Rice penned words he imagined might have slipped from Jesus’ lips as he struggled with the horror of crucifixion. “Then I was inspired; now I’m sad and tired – Lord your will is hard, but you hold all the cards. Why am I scared to finish what I started – what you started – I didn’t start it!” And finally – “Alright, I’ll die!“
Superstar was a defining moment in my spiritual journey and remains so today, but that too is for another post on another day.
Rice’s words mirror the kind of honest expression I have come to know PAPA expects of me – actually from all His children. We may think we can hide our questions, doubts – even anger; but we only fool ourselves. To pretend otherwise is to deny we are in the loving embrace of a God whose majesty can handle anything we dish out – and wrap us in a love that dries our tears and soothes our wounded hearts!
Then leads us into the peace of “not my will, Lord – but yours be done!”
Amen. . .
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-xap1/v/t1.0-1/p160x160/10933880_10152999878054264_1749306739390848122_n.jpg?oh=3b9b3e144f0b306aa0cc748b03d9dd6a&oe=55550352&__gda__=1432002183_d9a5e0b3a35fc3cfbbe66ed7bc7658c9[/author_image] [author_info]My passion is to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and most of all – spiritually. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness. [/author_info] [/author]