Monday, March 29, 2010

As If He Took Dictation

"I'm so glad you told me because I often feel I must be full of shit when I feel prompted to pray something specific and that I'm imagining ever hearing anything from God."

We were having an after the fact conversation about how freaky it had been that her needs in prayer and my prayers for her had jived in a Twilight Zone kind of way.

I rarely pray anything specific for people anymore. I have no idea what is best for them. Well, other than those times when I think I know what's best for the whole darn world and everyone in it. I tend not to talk to God when I'm in that mood because I think I am God in those moments.

Most of the time though, when someone asks me to pray for them, I tell them that all I can pray is that God's will be done in their life. It makes me feel like a lousy prayer warrior, especially when I hear people pray so specifically, like they know God is waiting to hear from them in prayer before He takes action. And then there's the tension between praying the Lord's prayer and those Bible verses that say "ask and it will be given unto you." I used to spend much energy praying with a grocery like list of things that I rattled off to God as if He took dictation.

But this time around some specifics did come to mind and part of my role this past weekend was to pray for this friend in the chapel as she shared her story with the rest of women in another room. So I prayed and began to cry as an image of my friend's deceased husband interceding for her in heaven appeared in my head. I hate when I get blind sided by tears and as hard as I tried to stop them I couldn't. Eventually it dawned on me that maybe the tears had a purpose so I told God that I would cry on my friend's behalf whatever tears my friend needed to cry. I also told God that I thought I was full of shit to think I could hear anything from Him so please forgive my rambling, making no sense to me, prayers that I said between sobs.

Then the power went out in the building. That dried up my tears.

Within the space of a few moments I decided that the power going out could not possibly be God's will and so I prayed against it as if Darkness itself was in charge of the situation. If you only knew how easily I judge people who pray like that. There's a boogeyman behind every tree, don't ya know?

I envisioned my friend and those women in their room with only one small skylight high up in that ceiling. With no additional light there was no way she would be able to see the pages of her talk and all those women would miss out on hearing her story and it all depended on me to pray the exact right thing for the world to right itself. Lord have mercy. Save me from myself. Next I thought that the power must have gone out in that whole side of the city as a very real threat to our little weekend.

In reality I'm pretty sure the kitchen team had overloaded the power supply while they were cooking our supper. One flip of a switch and the power came back on. There was hardly a blip in my friend's delivery of her talk.

So much for hearing God.

I feel ridiculous when I find things out like that. It's why I don't trust what I think I hear in prayer. I feel like I'm picking petals off a flower saying, "Hearing from the Holy Spirit? Imagining Things? Hearing from the Holy Spirit? Imagining Things" until all the petals of the daisy are scattered around my feet. And still I don't know.

It's also why I rarely talk about what I think I hear from God, even if what I hear gets confirmed. Actually that's not true at all. I'm trying to make myself look better than reality. If what I think I hear from God gets confirmed I tend to want to strut around like I am some kind of saint with a direct line to God. Then I have to pray to keep my mouth shut because my ego loves that kind of stuff.

It was a powerful weekend.


Anonymous said...

We've all seen our prayers answered, but it's hard for me to put what I've sees or experienced into words. It just doesn't do it justice and seems to bring out the skeptic in everyone around me, even many who are pretty like minded. Thanks for sharing and have a good one!

owen said...

Still here. Still reading. Still praying but most the rosary these days. I find pretty much everything I want to say and things I never knew I wanted to say and things I have no idea I am saying as well as those things I could never say (Rom 8:28 style) all get covered. And no, I am not telling you you should do this but only saying this is what I am doing and there is peace, the kind that passes understanding.

aka the Mom said...

Interesting and thought-provoking piece. Thanks for sharing.

Daisy said...

(((((((Hope))))))) You do make me smile.