What do you want me to do, Lord?
The other night I was with a few friends talking about prayer. We were discussing what prayer is and what a vibrant prayer life looks like; we even swerved into discussing the place of prayer within the tension of our free will and God’s sovereign will – a conversation that can often leave one with one’s brain tied into a pretzel.
What struck me the most about our conversation was the not so subtle theme that emerged: Lord, what do you want me to do?
It seems we often think of prayer as finding out our schedule for the next day, or understanding what we are shooting for in life.
If I could just know my purpose I could get on with living my life.
Prayer = What do you want me to do?
David Whyte says in his marvelous book Consolations, “Ambition is a word that lacks any real ambition, ambition is frozen desire, the current of a vocational life immobilized and over-concretized to set, unforgiving goals.”
We like ambition because when we know where we are going we know what is required of us, and if we know what is required of us, we know what we have to do, and if we know what we have to do, we can go about doing it, and if we go about doing what we know we have to do, well, somehow, we’ll be LIVING.
Is this what prayer is? To figure out what we have to do so we can live?
During the conversation I glanced over at my son, Roscoe, who was sitting in his wheelchair seemingly listening to the conversation attentively. I don’t think he was listening to the topics being discussed as much as he was monitoring all of us for the next cough or sneeze, the startling sounds of which consistently send him into fits of joyous laughter.
The problem for Roscoe (pictured to the right yucking it up at a concert recently with a couple guys from the band, Sanctus Real) if the formula of Doing = Living is true, of course, is that Roscoe really can’t do much of anything. He’ll never pound a nail, write a single note to a song, cure cancer, hold down a steady job, or anything like that. He’s severely disabled.
Yet, his life is a painting that declares God’s wonder more incessantly, and in more vibrant pigments, than I ever will.
The problem with thinking about prayer as a means to get our marching orders from our supervisor is that our supervisor is our purpose and prayer connects us to our purpose.
Roscoe reminds all of us that our purpose has already been fulfilled in our living. And our living is meant to be done in union with God. In fact, the first two words of The Lord’s Prayer are: Our Father. Relationship. Union. Prayer starts there.
And when you start there, you change the formula:
When I know my life (Our Father), I live my purpose.
P.S. We are quickly filling up the next Generation of the Journey starting in January of 2017. If you, or someone you know, would benefit from this training, please let us know. Read more here: http://www.spiritualleadership.com/journeyinfo/
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