If there's been a theme for this past year for me, spiritually, it's been prayer. I know I've written here about this struggle that's been plaguing me- the battle between head and heart. I am glad to say that my faith in God, in God's existence, has been rock-solid. I am amazed that my belief in God has not been shaken through the last 14 years of working for His Organization. (You know, I was told many years ago that if one can work for this Church and keep one's faith, it was probably a miracle.)
But this confusion about how things work, how God works and how prayer works, has really really tripped me up. I'm watching a corny football movie right now, and when the coach prays for his team to win, it's practically a reflex on my part to mutter "let's just hope no one is praying for the other team!"
See, I am not sure I want it to be true that God will change the results of your football game if enough people pray in the right direction. I understand and believe that God knows better than we do, what is best for us and for the people around us whose lives our lives touch, for history, for the universe. I get it, I really do, that God is not going to let my loved ones live forever because heck, if everyone lived forever, then how would that work?
But my inability to pray unabashedly has had repercussions on my relationship with God. It led me to walk the thin line between honoring God's supreme power to choose our fates and an inability to trust that God wants to give me the things I ask for... aw crap, it's even hard for me to type that sentence. Why should I get what I want? Lots of children are starving everywhere- why don't they get what they want? In that light, again, I don't know if I want to believe in a God that would give me a great parking spot while a child goes hungry, her prayers unanswered.
You can see how this spins me around.
But a few weeks ago, we read (and did LEX) about the reading where the friend bangs on his friend's door after the door has been locked, asking for food, and because of his persistence the friend gets up and gives him what he wants (It was Luke 11:13). In my research, I found that the better translation of that word was not "persistence" but "shamelessness." The reading is about Jesus teaching His disciples to pray- and the message is, pray shamelessly.
I have been trying it out, praying shamelessly- (not ridiculously, I am still not praying for my team to win or for great parking spots) but I am asking for good things for the people who I love. And, I'm working hard (and it is hard work) to trust that God's happy that I'm asking and that I can leave my concerns at His feet, and trust that God will address it in whatever way God sees fit.