Prayer Is A Journey

Good morning. It is Wednesday, July 8, 2015. Hump Day.

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is proprioception. Proprioception is a physiological noun, meaning, “perception governed by physiological receptors, such as muscles, tendons, and joints, as awareness of the position of one’s body.” Kind of weird, huh? So, the ability to know where one’s own body is, or what position it is in, is called proprioception?

Today is SCUD Day. No, I am not talking about missiles. “SCUD” means “Savor the Comic, Unplug the Drama.” I’m all for that! I feel relatively certain that my wife would be, as well.

I wound up not going to Huddle last night, as I was needed to work overtime. I stayed at work until a little after 5:30, an hour past the usual time. When I got home, we cooked chili for dinner, and relaxed, watching this week’s episode of Major Crimes, and half of So You Think You Can Dance. I’m not sure that I care for the new format of that show, the “Stage vs. Street” dynamic. Although I do love both of the “coaches” for the teams.

I haven’t talked much about baseball, this season, but, then, it really hasn’t been very exciting. The Red Sox continue to be in last place in the AL East, but they are coming on, right now, having won seven of their last ten. The Rays, who were battling for first place, are now in fourth, having lost nine of their last ten. Currently, the Red Sox are only five games out of first, even though they are in last place. The Rangers, were making a run for first, a couple weeks ago, but went on a seven game losing streak, and are now on a four game losing streak, and are in third place, four games out of first. The Astros continue to dominate the AL West. The Phillies have yet to win 30 games!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
Psalm 81:10

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

If you recall, in yesterday’s entry, I was sharing Timothy Keller’s thoughts on George Herbert’s poem on Prayer:

PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;

Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner’s towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear;

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices, something understood.

Herbert describes prayer as a “land of spices,” a place where we can possibly encounter a sort of “sensory overload.” Yet this does not come about easily for anyone. Because Herbert also describes prayer as “heart in pilgrimage.” A pilgrim is someone one a long journey (we don’t speak much of pilgrimages, in our modern culture), someone who has not yet arrived. “There is a longing in prayer that is never fulfilled in this life, and sometimes the deep satisfactions we are looking for in prayer feel few and far between. Prayer is a journey.”

Sometimes, prayer is simply the “manna” that keeps us going when we feel weak or discouraged. I can’t tell you the number of times I have not felt like praying, but went ahead and did it anyway. The result was an infusion of strength and faith that is almost indescribable. “Prayer helps us endure.”

One truth about prayer is something that a lot of people (myself, included), don’t really think about. Prayer reveals ourselves to us. “Nothing but prayer will ever reveal you to yourself, because only before God can you see and become your true self.” Herbert calls it “the soul in paraphrase.” What does paraphrase mean? “To get the gist of it and make it accessible.” Think about it. We can say things before God, in private prayer, that we would NEVER say to any other human being, not even the ones closest to us! We can learn so much about ourselves, while praying to God.

“Prayer is not all quiet, peace, and fellowship.” It is not all meditation and contemplation. Herbert shockingly calls it “engine against th’ Almightie!” Keller believes this to refer to medieval siege engines used to storm a fortress. “The Bible contains laments and petitions and pleadings, for prayer is rebellion against the evil status quo of the world.” In some mystical way, prayer harnesses the power of God, “sot that our petitions are not heard in heaven as whispers, but as crack, boom, and roar. Prayer changes things.”

Prayer is the “sinner’s towre,” being a refuge, even from our own sin. “We cannot go into God’s presence unless we are dependent on Christ’s forgiveness and his righteousness before God, not on our own.” “Prayer is a refuge.”

“Prayer changes us,” and “unites us with God himself.” And when Herbert ends this poem, he seems to come back down to earth and describe it simply as “somthing understood.”

“Prayer is awe, intimacy, struggle–yet the way to reality. There is nothing more important, or harder, or richer, or more life-altering. There is absolutely nothing so great as prayer.”
(pp 30-32)

Father, help me to know all of these qualities of prayer in my life. I don’t expect to understand them all today. I know, as is described in the title of today’s entry, that prayer is a journey. Help me to stay faithful on this journey, to not give up, to persevere, and to learn. May I know myself as I pray to you, and may I, more importantly, get to know you more. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name. Keep me firmly in “the sinner’s towre” as I pray each day, protecting me from my own sin.

I pray for this day, that we may have safe travel to and from work. Thank you that Christi is feeling better this morning, the stomach and leg are both better. Thank you, Lord. I pray for her work day today, that it might be free from stress and drama. I pray that Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and Mama will feel your great love today.

Your grace is sufficient.

Prayer is a journey. A life-long journey. Let us not get discouraged when we can’t “arrive” in a day.

Grace and peace, friends.

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