Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Showing Up" to Gatherings and Prayer

David Fitch, whose blog is called Reclaiming the Mission says that one of the best things our Sunday morning gathering can do is bore the hell out of us.  I must say, I wondered what he meant, but when I got to reading, I discovered a interesting balance to my growing conviction that Sunday morning doesn't really matter at all, and that it's totally arbitrary and if it continues to exist, it should at least be de-emphasized.  Here's a small quotation:
"Go to the gathering. Not to get pumped up and inspired. Not to take some notes on the three things you can do to improve your Christian life. NO! Go to the gathering to shut down from all the noise – to submit yourself to Christ – the practice of confession – the listening to the Word – the submission to the receiving of the gift for life at the Table..."
Yeah, I can dig that.  I need gatherings. I need lots of them probably. And I need at least one intentional way of clearing my mind of workweek clutter and sub-eternal cares that get caked on periodically.  That's what Sunday morning can do.  Bore me out of thinking about receipts and budgets and things. The eating of Word and Sacrament in community is the best way I can think of to kill my desperate desire to make my life "work."  Of course, if the gathering is not centered around Word and Sacrament, or has more to do with self-improvement imperatives than with Jesus Christ, that's another story...

A confession: I haven't been showing up to prayer lately. For a long time. I rarely ascribe things to the "voice of God" anymore, but this conviction was clearly his voice.  Not that I haven't been praying- I've made a habit of praying periodic, short prayers that don't consist of much throughout the day. Rarely out loud.  But to "show up" to prayer, to intentionally be focused on my conversation with Jesus, is a rare thing indeed with me.  The thing that strikes me about "out loud" prayers is that at some point in eternity, we're going to have to pray out loud because --get ready for a stunning theological assertion--  Jesus has ears.  Seriously, praying, like anything I do as a new creation, is an establishment of new humanity, and my new humanity includes proper use of things like tongue, voice, and eardrums.

My failure to pray out loud (with the exception of certain meals where I get "chosen" to say a blessing) and give prayer an time of intentionality, I think, is a product of what Fitch identifies in his post as "organizing God out of our lives." Words take energy, and time, and so does intentional "showing up" to pray.  This is energy that, in the scheme of things, could be used towards a more happy, productive life.  I could secure more benefits.  Speaking "into the air" as it often appears to be, doesn't really contribute to the categories I've deemed valuable.  So I do it in my mind, while driving to the post office, and say "good enough. I'm a pray-er."

So we'll see how this awareness of shortcoming works itself out in practice.  In the meantime, I'm going to add David Fitch to the blogroll on the right. I like him.

4 comments:

I'm just Lore said...

I love this. Thanks.

Bob said...

Wow, I wonder how our "talking to Jesus" in heaven will be different from the way we talk to him now. Anyway, this was a thoughtful post, for which I'm grateful. Most of my prayers these days are "in the moment," and certainly not out loud. Out loud, well, you have to form complete sentences and all. Probably not a bad thing, that.

I'm just Lore said...

@Bob, I've been thinking about that a lot recently. I work from home and so there's lots of space to say things right out loud. Yet I don't.

This is definitely a challenge to start living that way.

Nate said...

I kind of look at this two ways: I don't "think" my conversations with other people, so why would I do it with Jesus? Like much in prayer, I think it's about changing myself more than changing him in any way. And while I'm fully convinced he hears my thoughts, and even my groanings which have no words or definable expression, my voice is certainly a "member" which he's given me to express. I'm suspecting the reason I often don't use it is because similar to the reason I often refrain from speaking to others: I'm afraid of what I will sound like. Don't know if I'm okay with that fear...