Life Chez Dee Episode #109: More Exploration of Prayer
In advance of the Lent course this evening I glance through the session notes. Meeting God is the starting point and ultimate goal of true prayer. Asking God to make a difference in our lives and in our world. May your will be done on Earth as in Heaven.
After much shenanigans getting into the zoom call, being heard, and trying to work out how to get a picture of the cat off my background, I managed to slip into the meeting.
Discussions were already happening as to which city that we have visited do we think was the best, and what made it special? I talked about Rome. Straight away it popped into my head. We spent a week there on our honeymoon, and we were supposed to be going there as a 50th Birthday celebration for me, but the first lockdown put pay to this. We moved the holiday to this Easter, but yet again had to postpone. I’ve yet to move the holiday again to next year … we’ll get there in the end I suppose. I’m so looking forward to returning there, this time with the boys. William will have started University by the time we go, and as he’ll be studying Classics, I’m rather looking forward to our very own tour guide!
We talked about our action points from last week … mine had been sadly lacking in the listening to the app front, but I had picked up Barbara’s book a couple of times. Today’s thought was about Justice and integrity …. I’m satisfied with picking up the book or listening to the app when I can … it’s certainly more than I ever did, and I hold onto my action point of whatever I’m able to give is enough; I am enough.
The next discussion got me thinking, pondering, questioning. We had to finish the sentence: I know God answers prayer because ….. ? I don’t really. I’m at a loss most of the time. I am told he does. I am told I possibly only ask and don’t listen for an answer. I’m told that he always answers, but the answer may not come in my lifetime. I’m getting quite angry by this point. What use is that I think? What is the point of praying, and asking, even pleading with God, if he doesn’t answer, given that he’s supposed to know everything and hear everything. Maybe he is answering, maybe I have the answer, maybe the answer is not what I perceive to be the answer, or maybe the answer is not what I want.
I have so many questions … many of which will probably not be answered in my lifetime, and even if they are, I know there will be more. I know that my soul will never rest until I have answers, and understanding, of why my child had to die … and I doubt I will ever understand. My faith is being tested, and quite honestly it’s on very rocky ground presently.
We move on, but I can’t get the last discussion out of my head. There were all sorts of discussions as to what some of the readings were meaning, and I felt lost, and more confused than before I started reading the course notes. I decided that this clearly wasn’t a message for me, and turned my thoughts to the Lord’s Prayer. We’re told that the disciples were taught to say this when they prayed. I like the Lord’s Prayer. I like the traditional words. Whenever I say it I replace the yous and yours to thy. I thought about how much this was a part of my growing up … at church, at school. I didn’t go to a church school, yet we said the Lord’s Prayer in assemblies, as we sat cross legged looking up at the picture of The Queen. I think to the boys’ schooling, and know they are far more educated with regards to different religions and beliefs, but I think of how different their Christian upbringing has been to my own. None of them have said the Lord’s Prayer at school, nor do they sing hymns, nor indeed is there a picture of The Queen hanging in school assembly halls anymore, and I actually find it quite sad.
We resume our focus on the course session notes. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Asking is apparently the appointed means of receiving, for others as well as for ourselves. We’re told to keep asking, to keep seeking, to keep knocking; we’re told to be persistent. And yet we may not get answers in our lifetime. I’d like to think that the latter isn’t true; that if we keep persisting and focussing on what our needs and wants are, both materialistically and spiritually, without giving up too easily, we may have our prayers answered.
Kim directs our thoughts on what the answers might be. It may be that someone is praying for what someone else can give. Someone may be praying and guided into helping another. Sometimes the guidance we feel is the answer, and that if we actively listen, we can hear as much in what is not being said. This made sense, but then I hear this: that it is not the quality of our prayers that matters, but in the kindness of our Father to whom we pray, we believe God is a good and kind and generous Father, “.. and the prayer of faith shall save the sick; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven”. I begin to doubt again. I think about Edward and I can’t think of God as good, generous or caring, or that he will save the sick. He didn’t! His will be done … and my mind will forever be tormented with this, and my heart forever broken.
Do I trust God? I don’t know. I don’t trust my reaction to terrible things which happen, and I fear that my not liking is not accepting and not trusting. Am I being tested? Probably. How am I asking and responding? I talk, and discuss, and converse and reflect in my anytime, anyplace, anywhere time; and I am doing the Lent course, where I am asking, seeking, knocking … persistently.
Would it help to pray regularly with others in a small group? I don’t know. I’ve found these regular meets very helpful for my own spiritual journey, and I’d love to go from one study group to another to be honest, but a group with a focus, a topic, rather than just a small group connecting. Maybe I’ll pray for one. I don’t have another action point before next week, I’m going to carry on what I’m doing, knowing that what I am giving is enough; knowing that I am enough. Looking at myself on the zoom call today, I think I ought to be praying for the hairdressers to open soon too!
As in my usual way I leave you with the words of the hymn which spoke to me after this session, and I wonder if this is what I am supposed to hear. Have I listened and heard?
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, And His righteousness, And all these things, shall be added onto you, Alleu, alleuia
Man shall not live by bread alone, But by every word That proceeds from the mouth of God Alleu, Alleuia
Ask and it shall be given unto you, Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened onto you. Alleu, Alleuia
Seek ye first the kingdom of God And His righteousness And all these things, shall be added onto you. Alleu, Alleuia