I watch our Christian community respond to bad news, to indescretions, to failures, to loss and pain and I wonder how good we are at really praying the heart of God into these things.
Years back I had a friend who was in deep conversation with the Lord about a very bad situation. At that time my own faith was quite weak. My emotions were poked by her situation and particularly by the authentic conversation she was having with the Lord.
I was not yet comfortable with pain and loss. And her pain and loss provoked me to all sorts of saving prayers, pleading prayers, rescuing prayers.
I engaged this frantic activity for a weeks time.
And then the Lord gave me a bit of clarity. I was not praying his heart, I was praying mine. I was not standing alongside her in her pain, I was at arms length trying to make it better.
I was using prayer for my own comfort. I was using prayer to dissengage while simultaneously trying to remain in control.
As the Lord brougth this clarity I was grieved at my own lack of heart, compassion and support. And I actually went to my friend and apologized for bringing my own stuff to her bad-enough difficulties.
I thought I was making it better only to find I’d been making it worse.
Years later I went through my own very bad time and found this same thing directed now at me. Those unable to equate loss and grief bullied me with cries of ‘foul’ and how they were ‘praying this fixed’.
With mantra’s of ‘God can do anything’ all manner of manipulation was perpetrated.
How many times must we use God for our own comfort and to keep distant our own loss?
In our ‘perfect’ view of the world and of God we are ill-equipped to bring healing or compassion or grace. For problems must be fixed, circumstances must always work out. Guess what, they don’t always.
But God is big enough in the mix. This I now know.
Today, I try to pray only God’s heart. For in and of myself ego makes a terrible muck of prayers and violates the heart and essence of God.
We’ve got to get smarter and more emotionally intelligent about our praying, about our difficulties and all the manner of stuff that doesn’t work well.
“It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools.
6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of the fools;
this also is vanity.
7 Surely oppression drives the wise into madness,
and a bribe corrupts the heart.
8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,
and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9 Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
for anger lodges in the heart of fools.
10 Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”