a-Lenten-prayer-a-day, day 18, Tuesday, March 21, 2017

my-hands-2-27-17Note: As a personal, spiritual discipline, I write a prayer for each of the forty days of Lent; each petition focusing on a theme, truly, relating to a care or concern weighing on my mind and heart, at times, vexing my soul and spirit…

On waiting, doubting, and listening in prayer: O Lord, some (most? all?) of the time, when I call Your Name and wait for Your reply, sometimes patiently, sometimes not, I do not hear anything; not even Your still small Voice that, though the sheerest of silences, must, I (want to) think, bear a detectable sound. (Elijah heard it!)[1]

And I wonder: Are You there? Are You anywhere?

Or are You, Your Presence, Your Power, Your Person, only a thought that I was taught to believe, which, as ephemeral as vapor, now, as I draw e’er closer to the psalmist’s discernment of the length of years at this business of living,[2] my experience has convinced me to rule out of existence? (I confess that occasionally I allow my self this thought or rather this thought cannonades the citadel – sometimes the crumbling castle in need of shoring up! – of my faith in You, O Lord!)

O Lord, in the face of this, my wonderment, my doubt, nevertheless, within me, daily, hourly, moment by moment, I sense an urge, unquenchable and irresistible, emerging from the depths of me and rising to my conscious awareness, to call out to You.

O Lord, in this, as I continue alway to listen for Your Voice, I have learned to listen also for the echo of my voice as it grows fainter by the instant until I no longer can hear the sound of it. In this, in faith, I believe, I know that my plea has reached You. Amen.

Footnotes:

[1] I refer to God’s Word to Elijah (1 Kings 19.11-13a) (my emphasis): “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it

[2] My reference to Psalm 90.10a: The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong…

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4 thoughts on “a-Lenten-prayer-a-day, day 18, Tuesday, March 21, 2017

  1. Thank you Paul! This last year has reminded me that I need to listen more. God is answering my prayers for help, BUT I have to be open to receiving the answers because they may not be exactly what I prayed for. Many a night I’ve wondered if God was listening. But as you said when I can no longer hear my own prayer I know God has received (I actually hadn’t thought of that). I need to not question what God is telling me to do, because it’s the way I’m supposed to follow him even if I don’t totally understand Why!!

    Thanks and love to and for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea, verily, Loretta, this business of listening to and for God’s Voice, Direction, Guidance is laden, I think, with uncertainty…

      Have we listened well? (Or perhaps did we miss something because we were listening largely for the answers, directions, etc. we desired?)

      Have we heard God? (Or perhaps did we hear the voice of our sub/unconscious selves?)

      Have we heard rightly, correctly? (Or perhaps we, in our clarity, certainty, got it all wrong?)

      It’s hard!

      Yet having faith, believing in God, walking with God is our calling. And I wouldn’t (I believe, I couldn’t) engage this enterprise called “life” any other way

      Love

      Like

  2. Dear Paul,

    I am almost certain I have never encountered a prayer that within its boundaries captured so beautifully, so poignantly, so simply, so fully, the crux of both the problem and the promise of faith. So many of your words I have read over the past nearly one year (how can that be?????) have sounded deep echoes in my own soul, and this prayer “caps the stack,” as my extraordinarily expressive Aunt Sena used to say.

    It was only a couple of nights ago that I began meditating on the problem of the word “God.” I began to wonder whether humankind might have an easier time with faith if we didn’t feel we had to concretize it with words. As much as I love words (and I DO love words, and I know you do as well, at least as much as I do), they sometimes are simply in the way, and I often feel that way about the word “God.” I recall there are times when I KNOW the Divine, the Sacred, the Holy, the Numinous, and then I feel compelled to call Its name as I commune with It, and it is like pricking a balloon. My pea-sized ego brain steps into the picture, and there goes the miraculous connection I was experiencing with What-Is-Far-Beyond-the-Self-I-Know.

    As I have said before in this space, it is such a healing balm to know that someone else not only experiences the same things I do (which I know happens a lot), but that ONE someone actually takes the care, the great love, and the time to MARK those crucial human experiences as holy and worthy of mention, yes, even of sharing in prayer (in terms familiar from Answer to Job) something of what it is like to be human.

    I know that many who hear and read your words have the same reaction: While you convey so clearly that you are a man devoted to God, you also so deeply convey what it means to be human, in all its struggle, its pain, its grandeur, its humor, and its passion. To me, those things of are comparable value, and I somehow believe that in God’s eyes they are as well.

    Thank you for today’s prayer, Paul. As you can see, once again, my day and my life are made better by your words and by your simply being Paul.

    Much love,

    Karen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen, my beloved sister, is it not amazing (I ask myself) how one (how I) can live a lifetime (or, at least, as much of my lifetime at any given moment), and then meet another who shares so richly, fully so many similar wonderments and viewpoints, questions and perspectives? Yes, it is amazing, I say. So, dear sister, I think and say of you!

      And, ah, yes, words are wonderful vehicles, symbols, really, I think, which can aid and hinder communication, verily, even thought (or more precisely what I seek to name here using the word “thought” is being present to the reality of life’s meaning [yet, still, words fail me!])…

      As this is true for me, there are moments, sure and sacred, when I simply sense, know intuitively, instinctively the Presence of the One I call God. (For this reason…reality, I can write of my doubt, and then, in the next breath, speak of my inner hunger to call, to cry out to/for God.)

      And, at the proverbial end (and beginning and middle) of the day, verily, I am human; one who claims and yearns to be present/alert to all the joy and sorrow this life has to offer.

      Love, always and in all ways,
      Paul

      Like

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