Prayer does’t just wash over one in a hallmark-greeting-card sort of way. Prayer will actually change the topography of one’s being. It would be easy to say that it changes the soul, but then we could so easily spiritualize the entire thing. It changes the soul but it changes our way in the world too. Prayer is dangerous.
This week the Rule of Life class began the discernment around their chapters on prayer. They are some of the most courageous people I have had the pleasure of knowing. After an hour of conversation in table groups about their own prayer lives (longings, hopes, failures, modeling by Jesus, Biblical statements, needs, and the changes in lit which an increased prayer life would demand) they were not only able to see, but were able to say out loud that dealing with prayer was a little bit exciting and a little bit scary. They seemed to know that having prayer change one’s life was one thing; but writing down one’s longings, hopes, fears, expectations, and decisions about prayer was quite another. The chapters we have been writing on friendship, sabbath and money have been fairly safe. But prayer seemed to have an energy in the room which was quite different – expectant, scary, exhilarating, anxious.
While walking recently with my Godson, we came across this view of a gouge in the planet’s surface. Because the sun was setting, it’s colors were defined and it reminded me of the power of water. And that reminded me of the power of Baptism. It is not just about antique lace and brunch, priests and trickles of water or smudges of oil. Baptism is about being marked forever. Prayer is just our way of living into the mark made.
God has formed quite a planet. God also has formed quite a soul in each of us. Life will bring its cuts and gouges; and at the time they hurt like hell. But step back to the edge, like we do in Lent, and one can see that even the gouges are beautiful, valuable, meaningful. If nothing else, they bring the water to where it is needed.