When people say, “Prayer works”, I wince. “God works,” I say, sometimes out loud.
Because prayer isn’t a formula or an incantation. In fact, we would be better off replacing the word “pray” with one or more of the hundred words we use to describe our interactions with persons.
Like “converse” with God or “invite” God or “agree” with God. Or, as I discovered one week this summer, “leave ourselves open to loving ambush” by God.
I was with some friends, talking with God about a conference about to start. In the course of conversation, I asked God to guide the hallway conversations. I wish I could remember more details of what I asked. I do remember being emotional about the request, as if it mattered. And I’m pretty sure I said something about building relationships.
Then I left that room and went to the conference sessions.
- That afternoon, I was walking through the hallway and made eye contact. Unavoidable eye contact. With a person who I’d not talked with seriously for a couple decades. We talked.
- The next day, I walked out of a session and into a conversation with a person I knew slightly and was slightly threatened by. We had a thought-provoking lunch.
- The next day, I stepped out of a session to deal with a small issue back at the office. While I was sitting in the hallway, I talked with a person I’ve known for several years but never conversed with.
It took me a month of thinking about the remarkable and disruptive conversations I had before I finally connected them with my request that God guide hallway conversations. And I understood that God pays attention to what we ask with a depth of understanding of our hearts and needs that even we don’t have.