Friday, October 16, 2015

Praying to the Floor

Most nights before bed, I pray laying face down on the floor. It's meaningful posture, and the itchy rug keeps me from falling asleep. What I hear as a result is... about the same as anyone else. Prayer is mostly an exercise in obedience for me, which scripture assures me is very valuable to God. I have to take that one on faith (that's christianese for, it seems pointless but I do it anyway). Some people prefer to point their words horizontally or vertically but the result is mostly the same.

I'm sure there's a crowd eager to diagnose my prayer problems and confidently set me straight. Scripture does have plenty to say about why we don't get heard. But looking at how prayer went for Christ and many that he approved of leaves me unconvinced that being heard is the main problem. The cliche "sometimes the answer is no" doesn't quiet cover it either. "My God. My God. Why have you forsaken me," comes to mind. I don't have it anywhere near that bad. My biggest problem is that the carpet stinks in addition to being itchy.

Don't get me wrong. Besides all the high profile examples of answered prayer in scripture, there are plenty of big answers in my own life too, but that's not why I pray. It's a relational exercise, a weird one, but necessary.

Imagining things from God's point of view, there are some unique dynamics to acquiring freely offered and sincere relationships. Nothing says, "love me for ulterior motives," like someone who gets everything they want just because they know how to ask. And any exception is a huge one when you're all-powerful and unchanging. In the words of Robin Williams from the movie Aladdin, we would have, "the ever impressive but well contained genie of the lamp," who craves freedom more than anything. So we pray mostly in secret and in quiet to a God who answers in deliberately unsearchable ways that can be credited to luck or work ethic as easily as prayer. There's been a few that I recognized right away but hindsight is the normal decoder ring. The evidence for Him is still overwhelming to me, but a coerced gift exchange (praise for presents) is not part of it. But sometimes, even when it all makes sense, I still feel a little crazy for talking to the floor.

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