A simply expansive prayer

Posted: 17th January 2011 by iBarnabas in Growing Deeper

My Prayer:

“Dear God, Thank you.”

Does that sound like a prayer? It sounds like gratitude but a prayer? What is prayer anyway? I’m going to refrain from citing a lot of famous people or even quoting scripture and stick to want really matters; what “I” think 🙂

For me prayer is a church word for having a remote conversation. Really. At times it’s no different than writing a letter (who does that anymore?) or an email or leaving a voice-mail. I express myself in one side of a conversation knowing full well that the other person will at some point read or listen to my words. At work I might write an email at 7 O’clock at night knowing full well that my client won’t read it until they get to work tomorrow morning. I post stuff on my friend’s Facebook wall even though I’m not sure when they will log on to read it. Sometimes prayer is like this for me. I have something that I want to say to God so I dial his number but I don’t always expect him to pick up the phone (that would freak me out I’m guessing. I’d probably choke and hang up and that would be horrible).

You might think this a bit irreverent to equate talking to God with a Facebook post or an email. The reality is, I have a very high reverence for God. The thing is, though, that we have sort of bonded over years to where I’ve learned a few things about him that I didn’t before. For instance I sometimes think God gets a little bored with “church-speak” he doesn’t need to be preached to, that’s for sure. I also think he must get a little insulted when we recite the Bible to him. It’s one thing to bring a scripture to your mind while you pray but, come-on, He wrote the book. I think he remembers what he said. Don’t you? The most important thing I’ve learned after more than twenty years (okay, quite a bit more) is that it’s less about the words than the heart you bring into prayer.

When I come into prayer with a distressed heart, when life is kicking my butt and am feeling defeated, he can sense that in my heart. I may be praying my heart out for a friend or a family member, for jobs or health or freedom from ‘stuff’, and can sense his leaning in closer to hear me (not that He’s hard of hearing or anything – but that he cares). Sort of how a mother sits down with arms open for a crying child.

The response in these times is rarely some supernatural swoop of God’s hand making everything right but a peace in my heart. A peace that let’s me know that God hears me and he cares. A peace that says, “Everything will be just fine”. We need to hear that once in a while don’t we?

My Pastor challenged us today about our prayers. He challenged us to “pray big!” in short, that if we only pray about lost keys, being late to a meeting or getting over this tummy-ache we may be forgetting how big God is. What came to my mind was an Astrophysicist being asked to tutor a third grade math class. Really, all you want is how to add 3+2?!

Underemployment is a big problem in today’s economy. We have highly educated people with Masters and Doctorate degrees applying for sales jobs or office manager positions. I took a job in 2008 because my 1-man company was needing to cut back. While I was grateful for the employment, I found myself underemployed. I had the skills and knowledge to do so much more than I was being asked to do. It was a bit frustrating at times. I wonder if God feels frustrated with our prayers sometimes?

Are we under-employing God – through our limited prayers? Are we frustrating him with the little stuff and ignoring the big stuff? I guess there’s nothing wrong with praying for a raise or for your team to win. Nothing really wrong with praying for a good cup of coffee or to not get a ticket from that police car following you. When I was under-employed, I didn’t mind doing most of the work in my job. What I minded was being limited to only the small stuff.

So the question was, “Do you have something ‘big’? Something that you couldn’t handle yourself, to pray about?” Because let’s face it, eventually you will find your keys and can work harder for the raise and drive slower on your own. What is beyond that, something that only God himself is qualified and able and willing to do?

I’ve had, and still have some of these. Big prayers that I simply do not have the capacity to handle. Some I have already received (or should I say, ‘am still’ receiving) answers and can identify God’s hand in it. Some, I am still looking for. This blog is already getting a bit long so I can’t really get into describing them in detail. What I can do is continue to pray. And the one prayer, the one thing that comes to my heart and mind is, “Thank you.”

‘Thank you’ seems like such a small prayer (only a few more syllables than my shortest prayer, “ugh!”) but it is very telling. Telling of my relationship with God. ‘Thank you’ says, “I trust you Lord and have seen what you have done in my life. I know that you have heard and I know that you care. I know that you love your children and invite all of us into your family. I know that you are way smarter than me and know the perfect combination of times and events to achieve things that I could never do on my own. I have witnessed your hand in repairing my marriage years ago and transplanting us in a new community only months ago. For these (and more) I say, “Thank you.” As well, for those prayers for friends and family that you have heard and brought me peace that says that you have got it and it will be quite alright, I say, “Thank you.”

Today, my prayer is simple yet so expansive. I simply pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God for being… well, God.

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  1. Mark Manche says:

    “Aaaah grasshopper…well done. Time for you to go.” Welcome to my world. I sometimes feel mentally retarded talking to “real” people so how much more to a Dude who’s invisible. I’m often in the midst of the “big” prayer when I realize I’ve skipped out on the “prayer” and am now thinking about a better way to use dryer lint (attic insulation, the next big thing). So I end up saying “sorry and thanks for the understanding. Thanks for being You.” Love you Grant