Chapter three- Rule of Life
Rule of Life- Charles LaFond
Jesus came as The Word made flesh – God’s living word, to break down the barriers between God and God’s people. Jesus modeled a life in which he rose early, hiked up mountainsides and sat in silence and darkness, waiting on God in prayer. I will do my best to follow that model. I will often fail by sleeping in and avoiding prayer. But I am human and weak and fun.
Prayer can be excruciatingly dull at times and at others rich and full of wonder, but not usually. Mostly it is a matter of being present to God and working hard to dismiss the temptation to have anything in particular holy happen. We show up. We show up regularly, daily and we show up even if we do not want to – perhaps especially if we do not want to. We sit and we notice what is going on inside us. Then we offer it all up to God – the good, the bad and the ugly. And our prayers show us what we need to know about those who do not pray while projecting piety or power.
Prayer is less a matter of function and more a matter of disposition. Can I believe – truly believe, that God exists and that that existence cares about me? Furthermore, can I believe that God loves and even likes me? Might I be more inclined than I have been trained to think, that God may be ok with what I want and what delights me? Might, in other words, I show up to a God whom I perceive to want to spend time with me?
I believe God is simply mad with love for us. I do not agree with a theology of depravity – that we are made sinful and repellant to God’s holiness. I am worthy so much as to gather more than crumbs! I can approach God and that is because God made me to long for Him or else this is a cruel trick. So prayer must be the fulfillment of my longing for God and God’s longing for me – just as I am and just as I am becoming.
Prayer will form me and so, showing up will contribute to my conversion. I want to be made more and more in the likeness of my having been made in God’s image. And I believe that as boring and annoying as prayer can sometimes be, that something is happening even though it feels like I am wasting valuable time and am suffering from withdrawal from my electronic toys which can so easily replace God. They respond. They ding and beep and chime and flash words. In that way they are gratifying. But of what!?
I believe that waiting on God in silence is valuable to mindfulness and that mindfulness makes me aware of guilt and pride and is an antidote to its their stepsister, shame. Guilt comes from awareness and I want to feel guilt when I have done wrong. But shame has no place with me nor is it of God. And so I believe that in prayer, God points to guilt and burns out shame. The Holy Spirit is at once both comforter and challenger, wisdom and midwife, Eros and a confining sluice of passions. She shows up when I pray, she hears me when I wail, she shows me when I am being manipulated even if nothing can be done about it. She caresses my cheek when I tear up. She holds my shoulder when my knees go weak with fear. And this work gets done because of the time I give to prayer. I show up. God, give me the strength to show up every morning. That is my hope and God’s call. Just show up with French Roast coffee and cookies which are like toast but better.