Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Upon Further Reflection

Do you remember when I posted this on Sunday:

"Actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth."



Well I've been thinking about it inbetween doing nothing and doing even more nothing.

And, there's some danger in that statement.



When I first was aware of the concept that MY prayers move GOD'S hand - I felt a huge burden of responsibility. And guilt.



Oh my goodness; all these things that require heavenly actions - someone has to pray about them!? And now that I know that someone has to pray about them - being the first born female that I am - well, I guess that someone must be me. Aids. Politics. Famine. Broken hearts. Abuse.

Is there someone else praying? Do I have to do everything around here? I make charts and graphs and keep notes to make sure everything gets covered. I am the responsible one.



And then there's the guilt. You'd think I was a jewish grandmother with the way I excel at heaping guilt all over my head. Did I really pray hard enough or loud enough or often enough or spiritually enough about my marriage or my kids or my parent's health or my past church's or anything else that fell apart? Is it my fault that I wasn't earnest enough? Did I not say the right words? Should I have asked more people to join in? Am I guilty of neglect when I should have been praying? Are all the bad things that have happened in the whole world my fault?



BUT NOW.

THIS WEEK.

After contemplating those words further, I'm thinking that a person could get a little prideful and boastful and annoying when they say things like, "my children don't like candy. I prayed about it when they were little." Or, "my husband has never been without work, I've prayed about it." Or, "our RRSP's weren't hit by the last crash, I prayed about it." Or "we've never been in a car accident, I pray before I turn the engine on everytime."



I had a conversation recently with someone who's life is all tickity boo and as we talked, she continued to let me know how she prayed about everything. And that's why her life was going so well. It was simply a matter of her praying.



And it seemed to me that maybe she was taking too much credit. I mean, sure she prayed. Which, in light of all things hard, is really a pretty easy thing to do. God did the actual work. Shouldn't He get some credit? Shouldn't the glory be His?



And then my thoughts continued. (Don't you wish I was married so that I'd talk about these things with the person who would be at my side at 11 pm at night instead of boring the internet with these musings?) (Well, we're assuming that he'd be at my side at 11 pm at night. But he could be a rock star, on the stage at 11 pm... Or he could be a doctor delivering a baby at 11 pm... or he could be the night janitor at the local high school finishing up his shift at 11 pm ... or he could be a writer, sitting right over there, clicking away at his keyboard too.) Where was I?



Oh yeah, this business of taking credit for good things because you prayed.

Up until I was 38 years old, everything I ever asked for in my whole entire life was given to me. I didn't ask for much obviously. I have no memory of my parents, teachers, or God saying "no" to me.



I was reasonable. I didn't ask for outrageous things. I thought through my requests in advance and always offered a logical explanation and an agreement to 'meet halfway'. (Examples? The earliest one I can remember is being 12 and asking my parents for a stereo for my bedroom. It cost $80 and I offered to pay half. They could give me the other half for my birthday. And from that time forward, it was always the same - my first camera, Bible School tuition, BCIT tuition and books, access to the family car, parties in the backyard, holidays in Palm Springs... I have no memory of them ever saying no to me.)



The same was true of God. Whatever I prayed about - He answered "yes, dear child. I love you. You can have whatever you ask for. You are reasonable and try to be good. I am happy to give you your high school sweetheart as your husband. I gladly give you 3 healthy sons. (I never prayed for a daughter. Just sons. Weird, eh?) Yes, here, I will bless you with these jobs, these friends, this church family, this house with the rose and country blue geese, this hot car, that thick blonde hair and ruddy skin that tans easily".)



It was my "yes" season.

And I guess I could say, "I had the best life because I prayed about it."



I am now in the midst of my "no" season.

God is saying "no" way more than I'm used to. Or care for.
(I guess I could say I'm still having the best life because I prayed about it.)



He still loves me though.

It's just my turn to hear "no" once in awhile.

"Actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth."

Those 9 words have caused a jumble of thoughts. From overwhelming responsibility, to burdensome guilt, to hauty pride, to judgemental criticisms, to obedient acceptance.

My job is simply to pray. It's not up to me to take credit for, or worry about, or make assumptions regarding the actions that result. That's God's job - He knows what He's doing and why.

Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Bright pink toenail polish
2. Pharmasists who double-check perscriptions written by doctors in a hurry. Yeesh. Was he trying to give my dad a heart attack and a stroke?
3. A mom who is feeling better and listened to me rant for an hour this evening.

Shalom,

3 comments:

Tricia said...

I'm a first born Jewish grandmother too, and have all that same guilt.

Anonymous said...

Interesting musings! Amen to your last paragraph -- your summary. If our prayers have so much responsibility for what happens in our world, what do you say to people who have faithfully prayed for the safety and well-being of their child/ren, and then they are killed in an accident or by disease? Anyways, good questions to ask and to ponder. I can't honestly say a hearty 'yes' to the statement you began with -- but it causes me to think. Blessings to you.

Anonymous said...

I find this post quite interesting coming from a christian woman...just because someone says "I prayed" doesn't mean they're taking the credit for it, or being prideful etc....maybe it means "I'm trusting in God" you sound a little resentful that someone has an answered prayer or prayers, and maybe that person is just attesting to God answered prayers and doesn't necessarily dwell on prayers that are not answered...you seem presumptuous and judgmental just because your prayers don't feel like they're being answered...sometimes it's the smallest things that bring joy, the little gifts God sends and places in front of us...others' joy and answered prayers...walk a mile in another's shoes...I don't think you can put God in a box and say He has "yes" years for you and "no" years for you...it almost comes across as mocking God. I pray for you you hold on to the fact that God says no sometimes for our own good because He sees the whole picture, not just the now....and that is the best answer to prayer.