Let's begin this post with a simple note of clarification. When I speak of prayer I assume the underlying purpose for you to choose it for your life is as basic as the desire for personal interaction with God. Now I've been warned about making assumptions which is why I mentioned it. That being said let it be known that I am a passionate advocate for, as well as an active participant of prayer. I promote it and use it. I would gladly act as spokesperson for prayer should the request ever cross my desk.
"Prayer; what's it to ya?" could be our slogan. It both (a) highlights the question of the role prayer plays in our lives and (b) playfully addresses the growing tension Christians are feeling surrounding the outward expression of their faith in society today. (Obviously I would be taking this very seriously.)
Perhaps I would be asked to give a presentation on prayer and it reasons that some graph or chart would be anticipated (not to mention just downright professional).
It could be titled;
'A Christian's interaction with God: it's roots and consequences'
'The hierarchy of spiritual growth throughout the middle aged years of the American Caucasian brown haired male: variations of eye color addressed in addendum's A through D'
(I told you; I take this topic seriously.)
When all preparations are made and the handouts on the statistical averages of prayer for each of the 51 U.S. states (plus Puerto Rico) are fresh and hot off Kinko's copiers His voice would come. I'd be standing backstage with my index carded speech in one hand and my printouts in the other and I would remember that I prayed. His gentle voice would hold me back and instruct me to put the papers down.
'But they're in color!' I would argue.
He would direct my attention to the crowd and emphasize,
'Why are you here?'
And that would be it. He would leave it to me to decide what to do next. I would probably look down once more at the color coded key with symbols for both Catholic and Protestant regions and ideally I would leave them on the floor. I'd take the stage, lift the microphone from it's stand and simply state,
'Prayer is surrender.'
At this point you may be flipping through the phone book in search of local psychiatrists to help me deal with this overly dramatic imagination of mine. I understand your concern.
But here's reality....
In writing this post I began with dozens of points I wanted to make, two pages of
paragraphs that began but never formed and yes, I was actually preparing a graph/hierarchy presentation but God steered me in a different direction each time. I would begin pushing my agenda again from another angle and He would shut me down once more. Eventually I put the pen down and listened.
'Why do you write?' He urged.
You see, I pray before I post. And so very often I get wrapped up in reading my own glorious words that God's gentle urgings go unnoticed. Eventually however my frustrations become inconvenient enough to get me to stop writing and remember that I did ask for His guidence. And it's then that I can surrender. Which, in short, in it's hundreds of variations, is prayer's purpose in the life of a Christian. We give our concerns to Him. We lift up the safety of our loved ones to Him. We shout His name in moments of panic when control is out of our hands.
So, point (a) has been addressed. And frankly, so has point (b) for there is no shame in leaning on God. Is there public pressure to keep our beliefs to ourselves? Yes. Is this a reasonable request? No; it is too much to ask. For not only does your surrender affect you it becomes evident to those around you.....unless you have your own agenda. Every time someone is used in your life as an answer to prayer (an extra gentle caregiver for your loved one, a particularly patient teacher for your frustrated child, some person that just happens to be 'at the right place at the right time' to answer a frantic prayer of help) it will be up to you to decide whether you are going to let them know the divine role they've played. Often you will feel uncomfortable but comfort is the most common human motivation. Push past it and surrender. The next time you're at the register and you have just the right amount to meet your need you don't have to whisper your 'Thank you' to God. Tell the cashier! Just think of the hundreds of little miracles we ask for during our days. It will be up to God to answer them but up to you to display how active He is in your life.
"Prayer; what's it to ya?"
I think we could really get this to catch on.