In February, when I attended FCWC (which is really more retreat than conference and I recommend it wholeheartedly for introverted writers and harried moms who want to be writers), Robert Benson was the keynote speaker. I wrote a little about some things Robert had to say about hurry and life and living within the steps of the Ancient Dance.
Robert will tell you he is a little man but God is great. He’ll also tell you the Yankees are the only baseball team worth watching and if you dress like an artist people will believe you actually are one. Because of my proximity to the staff at conference, I got to spend a little extra time with him, and because I have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth, we had a good laugh together. We wound up in the same shuttle on the way back to the airport–over an hour of him and Eddie Jones (who is my publisher) talking church and baseball and publishing’s state of affairs.
One of those divine moments you have to watch out for at conferences where everyone believes God will place you where He wants you. God placed me where I could listen.
Robert has written a lot of books about life and Christianity but not about Christian living in the self-help sense of the genre. Don’t expect a how-to list and questions to work through and a Facebook chat group.
I purchased Living Prayer because I’ve been in a season of life in which I wrestle with prayer. Not just the action of it–what it means to pray ceaselessly or in communion–but what it means to pray and ask and receive.
Or to not.
I wonder over and over when we pray for healing and restoration and then say God is good when we receive those things if we could have received them without the prayer? And when we don’t, we say that is His will, so if His plan is unchanging, what is our purpose in prayer? What is the point?
Prayer, for me, has not been a rhythm, a stepping to a cadence my soul already knows. Rather it has been a beating and a brush-off. A way people had of offering comfort when what I really wanted was someone to rail with me, to hold me while I wept, to tell me that I am out of tune with God’s rhythm because prayer is not about what I can get but what I can receive.
Prayer is not meant to be the catch-all we so often make it.
People tell me God is so good when I answer their questions about my daughter’s health. I nod. God is good.
But my daughter is not healed.
She may never be, and that is our reality.
She compensates well and we move through our days and maybe I might call her physical therapist because her hip drop is back and her leg is very stiff and she cried the other night because her knee hurt. If her next MRI shows her lesion has receded, I’ll be surprised. If it shows a new spot of deterioration, we’ll still go through our every day and maybe see her neurologist an extra time or two.
And the only prayer I have is that God will show us how to live though our days.
I no longer offer petitions for her body or mine. I offer praise for every day that is better, for every moment that we are broken, for every set of hands that folds with mine. Then i get really quiet because Robert says we cannot hear God’s voice when we are too full of our own.
And “it is our brokenness… that holds the key to whatever we have to share.”
There is a chapter in this book about Walking in the Dark. If you’ve never walked that path, perhaps you cannot yet understand. But if you have…
“Perhaps God needs me to pray so I can be about the business of laying myself and the people and places and things I care about on the altar.”
And that simple act is what I am learning prayer is. A laying down. A lifting up. A coming to the altar.
I’d love to have you join me there.
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