On reimagining prayer, part 1

Today I have the lovely privilege of writing a guest post over at Christine Sine’s blog, Godspace. Won’t you join me there? : )


About lisa@diggingformyrrh

I'm Lisa: Christ-worshiper, writer, kitty-mama and wannabe saint (with a long way to go). Trying to stay on the path and appreciate the beauty...with daily thanksgiving. Trying to listen for His song and sing along...and loving every note.
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3 Responses to On reimagining prayer, part 1

  1. Kirwin Stewart says:

    Lisa, Loved you post! I believe you hit on something I struggle so much with as a pastor. As you preach, members want God explained in an easy three point sermon. Don’t make me think to hard- certainly don’t ask me to change. As pastors we fall in to this trap as well, trying to over simplify the mystery that is God! We do not challenge our members often enough to simply be still in the presence of God! We as pastors can get so wrapped up in the “busy work” of the church that we lose sight of our call- to enjoy God, and most of all just to love God. I am so guilty of this lately. One of the greatest pieces of advice I received before entering seminary came from a dear Physician in Macomb, IL. who said to me- “as you study and serve in the ministry, never let it become just a job. Never lose that mystery, that awe of God.” I think about that advice almost everyday I have served the church. My frustration is found in churches and members who as you say “expect God to fit neatly into our schedules even as we expect Him to fit neatly into our theories.” Those who want church to be more social than spiritual… who want no transformation in their lives…..just an hour or less of feel good religion. Your comments on this post Lisa gave me a lot to think about- God Bless you for that!

  2. Oh Kirwin, this letter left me in tears. I have to tell you, I have such awe for you and the other pastors I know–I don’t know HOW YOU ALL DO IT!! (And I include the pastors’ spouses in this!) I sing on the praise team at my church and that is just close enough to “behind the scenes” to get a small inkling of the enormous job all of you have. I know that God gives you grace… this reminds me that I need to pray more for you and all of the pastors I know.

    Your comment, “Don’t make me think too hard- certainly don’t ask me to change,” hit me so hard. And I have to laugh a bit because even as I nod my head in agreement with the frustration I share at that apathetic point of view, I also must confess that I’ve had those same thoughts on occasion, sitting in the pew!! : D “It’s Sunday–I’m tired!” Oh, the hypocrisy! One of these days I’ll have to post a write-up on the occasions I’d rather sit and watch a movie (or go online) than pray!! : D Honesty in blogging, right? : D

    More seriously, I’m delighted that this was a thought-provoking post! Your letter got me thinking in response…

    I think all of us, we like to categorize. It is a normal psychological function that makes life easier to cope with. Unfortunately, it also entrenches us in certain patterns of thinking. Digging out of those trenches is hard. Transformation is HARD, even though God is always there to help us through. It challenges these patterns of thinking and forces us to revisit how we see ourselves.(Ouch!) I think that’s why we tend to avoid it or resist it, kicking and screaming. (Maybe that’s why some people avoid church…or avoid God.) Transformation is also intensely PERSONAL. I think God often deals with us one-on-one…and I think that’s why we hesitate to share our struggles, even with our pastors. It’s an “alone-feeling” process. Someone once said that in God’s army, only wounded healers can serve. Maybe that is why—so we can minister to each other.

    Although I believe God loves us too much to let us escape His transformation, I am thanking Him this morning that He does not leave us orphans. Even when He seems to be asking for more than we can possibly give—like He seems to be with me right now—He does not leave us alone. And I confess, I am SO grateful for this truth!!

  3. Bob Stafford says:

    Lisa, I enjoyed your posts about prayer, as I have enjoyed all of your posts since you started blogging. You bring a very interesting human perspective to your topics, one that I bet many people can relate to.
    I want to encourage you to continue to change some of the way that you think about God. I believe that it is part of the transformation process you mentioned in your reply to Kerwin, that we begin to learn how to stop thinking of the Lord in strictly human terms and think if Him as He really is. Let me give an example:

    You made the statement that God is “wild and reckless”. I love the sentiment behind this, and I believe that this idea is a step on the road to understanding God, step that is a good way down that road. Many folks start out seeing God, when they really think of Him deeply at all, as a distant force, doing mysterious things that somehow end up having an effect in our lives. To perceive the Lord as “wild and reckless” is a huge step forward, because it begins to recognize that God is 1) a force to be reckoned with and 2) a force that is truly outside of our control. These are critical revelations on the road to understanding Him.

    Let’s take it just a bit further, though.

    Scripture shows us that God is anything but reckless. In fact, the scripture repeatedly trumpets that fact that God is an absolutely meticulous planner. He planned things out way in advance, even to the finest possible level of detail. A couple of examples:

    Jer 1:5 Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I consecrated you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations.

    Luk 12:7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

    In fact, God is only reckless from our point of view, from the view as seen from our easy chair (our desired location in the midst of the discomfort of God’s transformation of us, heh heh). The part of us that you spoke so eloquently about, that part that wants things to be safe, comfortable, easy, THAT is the part that sees God as reckless and wild. (And that only after some period of time where God is seen variously as a mysterious, distant, unknowable force, or maybe a heavenly real estate mogul, hanging out in a luxury cloud condo in the best section of our eventual neighborhood in the sky, or perhaps a less fashion-challenged version of Santa Claus who seems to have a better understanding of portion control.) God is wild to THAT part of us because that part of us (known as ‘the flesh’) wishes it could TAME God, bring Him under control, cause Him to do things in a way that seems good to our (carnal) mind.

    God IS wild, from that viewpoint, since He can never be tamed. Nor would we want Him to be, as He would cease to be God, and would become simply our personal genie, waiting around for us to rub the lamp and give Him His instructions for the day.

    The truth is that WE are wild, and WE are untamed. We are the ones that are out of control, since self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. By definition, the flesh is fighting a war with God, one that it is destined to lose, one way or another, but a war, just the same. The transformation you spoke of is the process of God taming that flesh, teaching it “who is Boss”, causing it to come under submission by the power of His Spirit. Winning the war. A war that He has already won. Won by executing a carefully controlled plan to perfection!

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