Thursday, January 10, 2013
gimme, gimme, gimme
On Prayer, a verbal record of a heavy heart . . . for what it’s worth.
Prayer meeting, Wednesday night, every Wednesday night, just like so many other good Southern Baptists. We gather around a table, sometimes there are 4 people, other times 14 or more, and we shout out our requests.
And they come rollin’ in, first the pastor tells us who needs prayer from his list of people that he has been visiting in the hospital, at homes or wherever. Then “anyone else” and we start.
“Will you please pray that the cancer screen comes back negative”
“Pray that “Mike” will get a job.”
“Will you lift up this family, they are struggling.”
“We better pray for our country, it is so evil out there.”
“My dad is having surgery next week, will you pray for him”
“I am pretty discouraged right now, will you pray that God would help me.”
“My friend has bad migraines, will pray that they will go away.”
We continue with our requests for healing, guidance, good news, safety, protection and so on. And I think we ought to pray that way, because when we pray like that we are inherently proclaiming our belief that God is the only One who can, heal, guide, fix and so on.
But, what if God has no intention of curing the cancer, even though we prayed, we prayed believing, we prayed as if it was already given, we prayed every week, every Wednesday and the cancer seemed to get stronger. Now what? What kind of God is that? We prayed, you’re the Great Physician but healing never came. Crisis.
The youth put on a skit about prayer. And we laughed. We laughed because it was true, it was about us. We laughed, but missed the point. At a point on the skit the teen is trying to pray and she, rather animatedly, starts making grasping motions while crying out “gimme, gimme, gimme” until another friend comes along and tries to correct the wrong method of prayer, with yet another wrong (and parodistic) method. And the skit continues. And we laughed . . . again.
So, last night my heart was heavy as I was struck by the “gimme, gimme, gimme” way that we pray.
And I didn't laugh.
As looked back through months of prayer in my journal it is the same stuff: heal this, heal that, give strength, help them, help me, unify us and on it goes. But what is painfully absent is a God centered prayer that seeks His Glory, and not our comfort. We rarely pray stuff like “God, please use this cancer to bring glory and fame to your name, and do not let this cancer go until it has achieved your will and plan. Oh God, may you use this cancer to draw (them, me) to yourself so (they, I) may see your ravishing majesty.” Now isn’t that a prayer that rings the truth of “not my will be done . . .”
How did our Lord pray in the garden? It wasn’t “gimme, gimme, gimme” rather it was “showme, showme, showme”
Like many of us I struggle with the nature of prayer, the why of prayer,the how of prayer and I try to pray less “gimme” and more “showme”
How ‘bout we stop praying as if it is some kind of incantation that will rouse the genie to answer our requests? How ‘bout we simply pray “showme”
OH God, show me your glory and might and power, even if it means a prolonged, tortured life of cancer for my loved one, or me. I don’t want THAT, I don’t want my loved one to suffer, I don’t want to suffer, YOU don’t want to suffer. BUT what do we want more? Less suffering or to see more of His glory? I don’t think we, as fallen humans, have the capacity to bask in His Glory without some level of discomfort and suffering. All we, all I, really want is a pain free, trouble free life. No tragedy, no stress, no illness . . . I just want to have it easy! But that's not the way of the cross or the Christian and if you can't deal with it, or at least accept it, quite the faith and eat, drink and merry.
Believer: this is the closest we will ever get to hell.
Nonbeliever: this is the closest you will ever get to heaven.
How I want to see us, especially at ODBC, pray for His glory to be shown through us! I want us, I want me, my local church, to stop praying wordly, selfish, self-serving prayers that have more to do with us and our “gimmes” than Him and His Glory.
Let’s face it, most of us pray for other people because we don’t want to deal with our own pain that comes as a result of their trial.
Dear, Lord showus.