Many of you received my prayer postcards this last week. If you didn’t receive one, but would like one, please let me know. I would love to send one to you.
Here is a map of every church and every city where someone is praying for our intentional Christian community.
As you can see, so many of us, all over, are praying together. And wouldn’t it be great to add even more?
Sometimes people ask me what prayer means. If we are already doing something that God endorses, then why ask God for help? Why ask God to do what God already wants to do?
And if God doesn’t endorse it, then why are we doing it? Surely we aren’t trying to change God’s mind?
It’s the same question that Polly puts to Fledge in The Magician’s Nephew,
“But we can’t eat grass,” said Digory.
“H’m, h’m,” said Fledge, speaking with his mouth full. “Well—h’m—don’t know quite what you’ll do then. Very good grass too.”
Polly and Digory stared at one another in dismay.
“Well, I do think someone might have arranged about our meals,” said Digory.
“I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,” said Fledge.
“Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly.
“I’ve no doubt he would,” said the Horse (still with his mouth full). “But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.”
St. Teresa of Avila gives us an equally helpful perspective,
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
As I understand it, God wants to do this work with us. God wants to do this work through us.
And in working through us, God has chosen not to bypass the desires of our hearts. God wants us to love this world and to remake it, and to do that because we want to.
And often we don’t want to. Not that we dis-want to, so to speak, but the fire in our hearts is often cold, burning low. What is God’s way of awakening that desire in us?
So what does prayer mean? Well, I don’t know yet, but I can share the way that I look at it and experience it.
I talk to God and I start by saying something like, “God, I want the people of Tanzania to be more in love with you”, and we go from there.
And maybe God intervenes directly to make that happen. And maybe new, creative thoughts occur to me in this meditative conversation. And maybe God tells me new ideas or directions to take–even directions that don’t make sense at the time. But most likely of all, in the honesty, as I start by saying what I feel like I am supposed to say
and then realize the futility of saying to God what I am supposed to say
And then start to talk about what I actually want
And as we sort through the ugly stuff and the flame of desire that I have for people to be more alive and happy and able to love
our conversation fans the flames in my heart–the prayer fans my desire to see a new world. The rest of the day is different for me. God and I are together in this work, and I care more.
The title means “to awaken my heart”. This is just the way that I look at it–I don’t mean to say that it is the way to look at it. If it confuses or offends, send a note, or make a note, and I would love to talk about it when we see each other again.