Does prayer work?

What does it mean to pray? Why do we pray? Do you pray the same way today as you did as a child? What form of prayer invites you to listen instead of talking?

I have people in my life who are ill. I have people in my life who are grieving a death. I have people in my life who are happy. I have people in my life that haven't got a clue. So where does prayer come in?

Is it saying one does not trust God if one realizes that God really doesn't answer prayer?You ask here whether people mean prayers? When people pray, I believe they mean prayer as they are able to or in the capacity to which they see God. They pray with a wish list and if it isn't fulfilled then they look at it that someone "deserved" it. This archaic way of looking at God stops people from really feeling the depth and the breath of God. Like a child on December 1st making the Santa wish list. All through the month they are told, "be good or Santa won't bring you what you want."

In the book I am reading, Praying in the Messiness of Life by Linda Douty, where I found the prayer by Garnass-Holmes, {previous post}, Douty says, "Maybe to say prayer works really means that we trust God to be with us in a profound and sustaining way, regardless of how things turn out..... prayer is more about [the] relationship than results." But that is Douty... most people will say they pray looking for God to do something. But when they do not trust God's presence in their life and do not see the authentic presence of God these prayers can sound empty.

Here I am preaching this and not following God's presence myself ... showing my humanness of anger, frustration and arrogance in order to hide my hurt and fear. But I take great comfort in the fact that I come around. Most people don't ... they live this fairy tale existence, trying to believe something that is impossible to understand and believe, instead of getting to the ultimate truth; as opposed to teenage truth as per Marcus Borg, truth as that wich is factual.

It is scary for people when they face down that the God they are praying to really has little control over the future ... that life is what it is. That is not cynicism, it is great faith in its essence and a true understanding of God's plan. I was chatting with someone who made the comment I am usually in the right place at the right time.... I corrected her and said no, that I simply trust that there is an ultimate plan and when we choose not to fight and manipulate our lives but let life happen then it works. I told her not that I think there is someone in "up there" playing chess and we are the pawns but that there is a pattern and cosmic life's journey that we have to trust.

Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore!!


Where is God?

This is usually the question of a child as they ponder the greater picture. So where is it that we grow into a point to which we think we really know where God is? At what point in our lives can we finally say, "I have it all together..." I think never. Truthfully, those who think they have it all together are in for a great shock. Most recently I have been introduced via the community events page of the local paper to a man by the name of John Bevere through a video series being offered at a local church called "Driven by Eternity". So I did some research and checked him out. He scares me, really he does. He scares me that there are people who actually follow his lead and attempt to learn from his teachings. Is this God? Does John Bevere have it figured out? I hope not, but in absolute truth, I really can't dispute if he does or doesn't because I do not have the answers about eternity and I don't know anyone else who does either.

I have a friend who is struggling with some health issues. I think of him and his family every single day. That is their reality. Are they concerned with eternity? I don't know but I think they just want to get through today, here on earth. I also have lots of questions ... things that I ponder about this afternoon, tomorrow, next week, the fall. I tend to think about life on earth and how God is present in my life here and now. Eternity seems so far away and when I don't know what is beyond I think I will leave it up to God. To quote my good friend Gord, "Our message {as pastors} should be focused on this world, what happens after that we leave in better hands than ours." By focussing on this world in a healthy and prayerful way God will be present and we need not worry for our eternity.

Let me share some affirming words:

As you sit in prayer
and try to remain mindful of God,
failing because your thoughts wander,
remember this:
that God is perfectly mindful of you always,
attentive to your being and your doing,
never straying from your heart,
not missing a single breath,
or forgetting a single heartbeat.
God is never distracted, never forgets.
Without neglecting anything else in Creation,
for all of Creation is present in God,
God is fully present to you,
seeing not from afar but from within
your journeys, thoughts and feelings,
holding tenderly your sins and wounds,
delighting in your gifts and beauties,
fully aware of what you yourself
only dimly suspect deep within you.
God is in all that you see, and in your seeing,
in what you hear, and in your hearing,
in your wondering, in your sorrow, in your awe,
God is grateful for you, and delights in you.
God longs in you, grieves in you, exults in you.
God gives full, peaceful, loving attention to you
all your day and all through the night,
not controlling or manipulating,
just beholding, blessing, loving
and breathing life into you,
powerful, joyful, beautiful, infinite life,
granting you mindfulness
and mindful always of you.

........written by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Have a wonderful day and may you find peace and hope in your prayer life.