I am a person of prayer.
I pray a lot.
I pray for others. And I pray for myself.
I pray grandiose prayers – prayers that are meant to shake the earth.
I pray trivial, pettish prayers that reveal my weakness and small-mindedness.
I pray with lists and proposed outcomes.
I pray out of a poetry in my heart.
I pray rational prayers.
I pray irrational prayers.
I’d like to say I am learning a lot about prayer. I won’t try to summarize those lessons here. However, if I were to describe what I’ve been doing, I might say “dancing” – the kind where you are close enough to whisper in another’s ear – and in that embrace, you get the impression the Other is inclined to give your heart’s desire. That’s how it is sometimes.
So if prayer is a dance, I am a clod-footed partner in it. I am constantly trying to direct the moves, telling my Partner how to lead. Mechanical and rigid, I pray my lists, my expectations, my well-organized, logical outcomes. I supplement them with reasoned justifications and efficient methods of implementation. Just when I have it all figured out, I find myself out of step, having lost count, stepping on toes and making excuses. Those are my rational prayers. Prayers made from my own perspective, my own ability, and my own understanding. Clumsy, abashed me.
I’ve come to think I am too reserved in my prayers. Too rational. As if my own ideas were enough – somehow thorough, or insightful, or wise, or knowledgeable, or prescient enough to be the answer I seek. They are not! If they were, why bring God into the conversation? Why would I pray my ideas, dance my steps, when I am being swept up into the arms of One immeasurably strong and creative, powerful and tender, agile and assertive – the God of the universe?
So, as I pray, I am learning to loosen my grip, to move more fluidly to God’s movement. I am learning to be bolder, less self-aware, and maybe just get lost in the Music for a moment in time. I am learning how to pray irrationally. These prayers – these irrational prayers – do not have to be logical. They do not have to be possible. They do not have to be within the scope of science or history. They do not have to be in the framework of space and time. But they do have to come out of the Heart of Love –both mine and the Divine Dancer. What if we no longer tried to define the outcome according to our finite reasoning, but let the Greater Mind and the Greater Heart take our hand and take the lead? How would we pray?
Jesus often asked those who sought him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Those poor souls always answered boldly. “Save Me.” “Heal Me.” “Forgive Me.” Peter (in one of my favorite responses) says “Tell me to come to you, on the water.” Not a moment’s hesitation that this might be an irrational, supernatural request. And he walked on water! A man asked Jesus to raise his daughter who was dead. “But come and put your hand on her and she will live.” And he did, and she lived. Perhaps we get to the irrational, the supernatural, when we no longer have the answer for ourselves. When we no longer know what to pray.
Irrational prayers are based on God’s perspective and God’s power, not on ours. We have permission to pray out of the scope of our understanding and pray for a miracle. It’s not against the law to “not understand” how it all works. But we can believe it anyway. We can believe that HE CAN, that HE DOES, do wonders in our lives. Belief alone can change our lives. Belief alone draws us into the dance. Maybe that is the miracle, where the power resides, when we suspend our entire selves into the strength of His stance, and we move in unison together to the Music.
I believe God loves us beyond measure. Regardless of the inadequacy of our prayers, He is working all things for good in our lives. He is moving us closer and closer to his irrational heart of Love – his love beyond reason. He is doing the BIG THING in our lives, for which we are too afraid to ask, because we can’t quite wrap our mind around it. He is doing it anyway. So how will we pray?
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations,
forever and ever!
“Jesus looked at them and said,
‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”