It may come as a relief for you to read that, I believe in prayer. For me, prayer is part and parcel of my daily disciplines. But, just because I believe in it, doesn’t necessarily mean I always understand it!
The way that I have come to think about prayer is that it like a diamond; multi-faceted. Whichever way you look at it, displays its beauty.
One facet is the emergency, the “arrow” prayer.
Another facet is the prayer of lament
Another facet is the seeking of direction and God’s will
Another facet is the asking, or even pleading, for the things that we need.
The wonder of this diamond of prayer is that each of these facets are perfectly valid. Steven Croft wrote;
It is in the place of prayer that we find wisdom in complexity, peace in turmoil, guidance when we are lost and strength when we are empty (Steven Croft – The Gift of Leadership)
Some years ago, I came across this story about Mother Theresa. Mother Theresa was once asked about her prayer life. The interviewer asked, “When you pray, what do you say to God?”
Mother Theresa replied, “I don’t talk, I simply listen.”
Believing he understood what she had just said, the interviewer next asked, “Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?”
Mother Theresa replied, “He also doesn’t talk. He also simply listens.”
There was a long silence, with the interviewer seeming a bit confused and not knowing what to ask next. Finally, Mother Theresa broke the silence by saying, “If you can’t understand the meaning of what I’ve just said, I’m sorry but there’s no way I can explain it any better.”
When I first heard that story, I nodded sagely pretending that I understood what was meant by it. In truth I didn’t, but I wanted to.
This began, for me, a journey of discovery as I explore a new facet (to me anyway) of prayer. I am learning to sit in silence in the presence of God. I say nothing. He says nothing. Through this, I am beginning to understand what the Psalmist meant when he said;
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls (Psalm 42 vs. 7)
This, sitting in silence, doesn’t take away any of the other facets of prayer. I still fire the odd “arrow” prayer. I still pray for others. I still rage at God. But, I am also learning to be silent in His presence and just “be”.