Prayer

Lest anyone think I’ve taken a permanent break from thinking (because rereading last week’s post), let it be known that I’ve been reading my “entertaining books” on sex and The Simpsons along side of, that is to say, at the same time as a few commentaries on I Peter and Lewis’s Letters to Malcom. And, you’ll also be relieved to know, both of my “break books” are rather thought provoking; there just isn’t as much mind stretching involved, not as many new thoughts. I just finished Real Sex by Lauren Winner and I recommend it to marrieds and singles alike. Winner is engaging and realistic. She does an excellent job of confronting the lies about sex that bombard us both from our Christian subculture and our western culture at large, as well as developing some constructive ways of viewing and practicing chastity within the biblical contexts of Scripture and Church. Some of her most fun thoughts are about working against our cultural bent of extreme individualism where “my sex is none of your business” arguing that “sex is communal rather than private, personal rather than public.” Chew on that for a bit!

Every week Jasie asks, “So, have you thought any more about prayer?” And I reach back into the corners of my mind and reply vaguely with generalities like, “Yeah, it’s been going well…” or with specific happenings such as, “Well, yesterday this and this and this happened.” which is all fine, but not quite the response I want to give. So this past week, I’ve been making a list and today I was able to answer the question before she even asked. Currently number one on my list of thoughts about prayer is: I feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray when I would normally read or listen to music or hang out and I want to be obedient. (Actually, I want to read or listen to music or hang out; I want to ask the Lord for a rain check. This is why prayer is a discipline. And I really do want the relational fruits of discipline.) Number two: I’m working out a broader perspective on what prayer is. Sometimes I study I Peter in prayer and sometimes I don’t. What do I mean by that? I don’t mean that when I remember to pray, “Holy Spirit, illuminate Thy Word” before opening my Bible that I am studying in prayer and when I forget I’m not. To be sure, that kind of prayer is important and good, but it certainly isn’t prescriptive. It isn’t a guarantee that my study will be productive, effective, or prayerful. So what do I mean? Well, I’m not entirely sure. At some level I think I mean simply acknowledging God; he is there and it is wrong to ignore him. There is nothing “spiritual” in doing this, not the way we sometimes think of spirituality at any rate. It doesn’t make doing dishes didactic; doing dishes can be didactic, as can anything, but that’s not what makes the act spiritual or worshipful. So when I get the inkling to read, listen to music, hang out, and the Sanctifying Spirit prompts me to pray, I need to put down my book, turn off my music, excuse myself from the room. But other times when I get an itch for the things I love, I should do them with the knowledge that God designed me specifically with those desires and he loves to see me enjoy myself; he loves to be with me as I enjoy myself; he loves providing opportunities for me to do the things I enjoy. I do the same for those I love. Sometimes I don’t receive recognition for it, but I’m not being ignored either… I’m in relationship.

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