Let this chapter remind me that I do believe that prayer works. Let me be equally clear that I have no idea how. Does God show up? Yes. Does God show up early? Never. And that really pisses me off.
I believe that I am living a life, on a planet, and in a cosmos in which God exists, listens, speaks and acts. I also believe that God does none of those things when I want, how I want or as I want; and rarely ever in the manner of and to the outcome I want. That pisses me off too. A lot.
But I love this shy and vulnerable God with my whole being even though I would shake him or her sometimes and kick his or her shins occasionally too. When I start punching, He of She just smiles and sometimes laughs. When I ask for what I want and may not have, God’s silence is not ignoring me but rather is a gentle silence. C. S. Lewis said beautifully “When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not un-compassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.’ ”
I Try not to treat God as a celestial butler by making a million demands, and when that happens in an office I smirk and fight back laughter. I am a terrible Anglican. But I assume jesus would be too. So, I agree with Mother Teresa that “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
“Spirituality without a prayer life is no spirituality at all, and it will not last beyond the first defeats. Prayer is an opening of the self so that the Word of God can break in and make us new. Prayer unmasks. Prayer converts. Prayer impels. Prayer sustains us on the way. Pray for the grace it will take to continue what you would like to quit.” says Joan Chittister, and I agree. So my prayer tends more to be silent and meditative. We sit together, me and my God. And I look at Her and She looks at me and our gaze is life abundant but sometimes really terribly dull. And sometimes extatic. But usually dull, like two old-people married 50 years, on a Florida porch in rockers, knitting silently. Content and with a lot of history.
For my heroine, Thérèse de Lisieux, “prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
In short, may this remind me that if I am not praying, all will be well, and I pray will again. But my priesthood and my faith are compromised and so I must seek immediate help. I will pray every day, at least once, seated, still, and in no way multitasking. And if God seems not to show up, then I will remember that the sun still shines on a cloudy day, and sometimes my prayers are cloudy.