Monday, August 9, 2010

Can't make the play...

I used to play basketball in elementary and middle school. I had everything going for me. I was pretty tall for my age. I actually enjoyed practicing. I would shoot 1000 shots a day (and keep track of my percentages) during the summer to get ready for the start of the season. I watched basketball. I checked books out from the library about basketball. I would eat, sleep and breathe basketball. I dreamed of being the first woman in the NBA (this was in the pre-WNBA days). I was gonna be an all-star. There was one problem. Everything changed when I got out on the court. I KNEW what to do, but I couldn't make myself do it no matter how hard I tried. My coaches would go over plays with me and tell me exactly what I needed to do. I was focused and determined until it was time to perform. Everything would quickly unravel as I clumsily tried to shoot an easy lay-up or foul some poor girl as I was trying to set a pick or worst of all just stand there with my arms in the air hoping that they would magically block a shot or score a winning basket. Needless to say, I moved on to track in high school because I found staying in one lane to be much less overwhelming.

That's how I've been feeling about my theology lately. I am a firm believer in the sovereignty of God. He is in control of all things. Nothing takes him by surprise. He predestined everything before the foundation of the world. He can look into the future and know exactly what lies ahead. I find such joy and peace in knowing that my God is powerful enough to do ANYTHING. He can heal or bring comfort. He can remove trials or allow them in order to help us grow. He works all things together for good... so I know that whatever he has planned, however hard it may be to accept at the time, is ultimately for his glory and my good. The bottom line: He is a good God who is in control and knows what lies ahead.

Beautiful theology. It brings a smile to my face and reassurance to my soul and... a mighty blow to my prayer life. Seriously, it's been pierced by the dagger of this truth and I fear that if it is not resolved soon, the wound may be mortal. I am haunted by the fact that I've taken this wonderful truth and used it to justify my sin. I have somehow chosen to emphasize the sovereignty of God in my life to the point that I feel prayer is useless. I use the word feel purposefully. I KNOW that that's not true. God's Word tells us otherwise repeatedly. But when it comes down to it, I haven't really internalized the idea that prayer is powerful. I WANT to. Oh how I want to! But, time and time again I sit down to talk with the Lord and I feel paralyzed and overwhelmed by it. I start out okay. You know, follow the ACTS model because that's the good Christian way to pray. A little praise here, a little adoration there. Yep. That's good. A little confession. Well, you know I stink at life in general, but you've saved me and wiped my slate clean. A little thanksgiving for that. Then some supplication. Ah yes, (crack knuckles) on to the good part. I get to ask for all my "stuff." I'll use a recent example:

"I pray for Mom to get this teaching job." (Wait! What if that's not God's will? How am I supposed to pray in God's will if I don't know what it is? Okay, revise statement.)

"I pray, that if it is your will, Mom will get this teaching job." (And then it all starts to go down hill. What was the point of that prayer? Well, I guess Jesus prayed that way. Okay, then. But we're also supposed to pray in faith, not double-mindedly according to James. Okay, revise again.)

"Lord, I pray for Mom trusting that you will open the eyes of the hiring staff to her abilities and provide this teaching job for her." (But what if she doesn't get it? Then I've prayed in faith in vain and that makes it look like God's Word isn't true. Hmm... better go back to the "if it's your will" clause... that's a little safer.)

"I pray, that if it's your will, Mom will get this teaching job." (Okay, on to the next thing.)

Repeat the above scenario, insert new request. And I'm bored. And God doesn't need me to do this. He knows what I need before I ask it. Does he really want me to go over the bagillion things that the world and I need physically and spiritually?

Ahhhhh!!! It's driving me crazy! I'm simplifying what goes on in my head probably more than I should, but the point is, I'm frustrated. I've tried having an organized time of prayer with lists. Boring. I've tried journaling. My hand can't keep up with my thoughts. I've tried spontaneity. I become extremely inconsistent.

Once again, I know that prayer is what God commands. But I'm tired of "willing" myself to do it. It's forced. Lifeless. I always think that when/if I grow in my walk with him, it will get better. And it does. A little. It's not that I don't ever pray or that I don't ever "feel" like doing it. It's just it often feels like more of a drudgery and less like I'm drawing near to my Savior and my God.

So, in light of my last post (that I'm coming to a point in my life where I realize I don't have all the answers and advice is a good thing), please help! I would love to hear how you pray and what motivates that prayer. I could use some encouragement and maybe some (gentle, please) reproof. If you have any insight or wisdom, please comment or send me a message. I would greatly appreciate it! This is not over and I plan to write more as the Lord works in my life in this area.

1 comment:

  1. Des! This was VERY well written. Bravo! Your language is both playful and real. I'm impressed.

    Ok, beyond that, I definitely identify with this--as I told you yesterday. The ACTS model is so stale. I wonder sometimes if our DEFINITION of prayer needs to change.

    One thing I do practice is this model of prayer used by medieval monks called "lectio divina" (I tend not to think of it as prayer, but that's exactly what they thought of it as). Wikipedia actually has a good article on it.

    It's taking a short passage of scripture and praying the lines one by one repeatedly, emphasizing a different word each time.

    For example, Psalm 2:11

    SERVE the Lord with fear
    serve THE Lord with fear
    serve the LORD with fear
    serve the Lord WITH fear
    serve the Lord with FEAR

    By the time you're done you'll have struck on something to pray more about . . . and if you didn't, move on to the next clause. I find that this lifts my eyes from my own sad spiritual condition (and how does meditating on that help?) and helps me focus on the greatness of God.

    Just one thought. Definitely can't wait to hear more from you, as I still find my intercessory prayer life very weak.