..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Are You Prayer?

"In return for my love they accuse me,
but I give myself to prayer" (Psalm 109:4)

To say that these are turbulent times is
to make a gross understatement. David
knew what it meant to weather hard times
and here in this psalm it says he "gave
himself to prayer." In the Hebrew it
says it even stronger: "but I,
myself, am prayer."

There is a time coming, and now is, when
we must "be" prayer. In the Orthodox tradition
there is the centuries old "Jesus prayer."
It has various forms from "Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner" to,
simply, "Jesus."

Its aim is not repetitious mumbling but
to incorporate a sense of being held by God,
of being united with God, of needing and
knowing God, in the deepest part of one's
being. It is prayer that is meant to pray
itself unceasingly within us.

However we pray, it is wise to aim to make prayer
such a part of ourselves that we no longer
differentiate times that we recognize ourselves
to be praying from times that we are not
consciously praying. All should be prayer. Our
lives should become prayer. We must
"become" prayer. We must give ourselves
to it so fully that we, indeed, pray
without ceasing.

For many, sadly, it is only adversity that
drives us into such a state of continual
prayerfulness. David, here, is thrown into such
a state because he is endeavoring to love and,
instead, is being falsely accused.

David continues to pray, but he prays as
a man of war. He prays that God will judge
his enemies harshly. It is an honest prayer
and understood by anyone who has been
falsely accused. David is so taken up
with his prayer that he feels that he
has "become" his prayer. You can feel
it pouring out of him.

And yet I would believe that Jesus points
us to a higher place in our hearts. He
points us to prayer without ceasing.
He also calls us to allow God to take
such complete control of us that our lust for
personal vengeance is given completely
to God. Vengeance must be truly the Lord's!
This is not to say that we will not
have strong emotions, nor that we
will never be tempted to call down
fire on our enemies!

Things are going to sorely try us, of
that you can be sure. They are going
to cause whatever is inside of us to
form itself into a prayer. We are,
indeed, going to be our prayer, but
what will that prayer be? a vengeful
one? a prayer full of vitriol and
hatred? or one full of forgiveness
and love?

In C.S. Lewis' classic book, "Til We
All Have Faces
," one of the main characters
has a case against the "gods." When finally
she gets to stand before them she has her
"prayer" all lined up and ready to blast.

It is an unending scroll of complaints:
a litany of upset. As she goes to read her
case before the gods, she looks down and the
exceedingly long scroll she has written her
"prayer" on has shriveled to a small bit of
paper in her hand: her "true" prayer. She is
now praying not what she thinks she
means, but who she really is. Just a
small bit of paper. If you became a
prayer that was condensed to fit on a
small bit of paper, what would you be
as a prayer?

What is laying at the heart of your soul?
What is your prayer, pealed down to
to your very depths? Are you love or
hate? surrender or defiance? vengeance or

All of this matters, you know.

In these turbulent times we must
give ourselves to prayer. More than
that, we must give ourselves to
purity of heart, to surrender to
God, to forgiveness, and to love
or the prayer that we "are" will
be a most terrible prayer. In truth,
we must give ourselves completely
to Jesus.

The times are about to separate the
men from the boys and the women
from the girls. Deeper still, they
are going to cause a prayer to be
formed in us. Ask God what that prayer
is going to be in you! Let Him
make it into one sweet word, "Jesus."
The image of His Dear Son, praying
Himself in you, is the sweetest
prayer there is.


Cindy Swanson said...

Wow...excellent post...it really made me think seriously about my own prayer life and how it needs a great deal of improvement. Good words!

The Pen of The Wayfarer said...

Thanks, Cindy, yes, we all probably need to pray more and "be" prayer in a deeper way! I'm looking at my own life, too! God bless, RM