Nancy and I were sitting on the sofa the other night, looking at social media streams on our respective iPads.
It’s what we do for part of our time.
After I had showed her a couple things that made me laugh, and she showed me a couple. I said, “I’m so grateful for ___ and ___ and ____. They consistently make me smile.” (I’ve told them, by the way.)
That came to mind when I read my friend Jeff’s post about “praying.” He’s looking at the prayer Jesus shared with his disciples, known as “the Lord’s Prayer” and wondering about the value of using the prayers of others as either the content or as a guideline for our own conversations with God.
Jeff writes, “My struggle is with my desire to be spontaneous. I want to pray what is in my mind and on my heart. A written prayer by someone else does not seem personal, and even quite sterile.”
As a person who actually writes prayers and shares (and sells) them, I suppose I have some bias. And having just written about an evening prayer, I’ve already acknowledged that I find the guidance for my thoughts helpful.
But a deeper question is, I guess, what we are talking about when we are talking about praying, and the role whatever the words are in our relationship with God.
If prayer is conversation with God, then perhaps we can look at the ways we have conversations with others we care deeply about. In those moments on the sofa with Nancy where I share a meme and we laugh, the content of the interaction (the meme) is completely not original to me. I laughed, and then she laughed, and then I laugh at having helped her laugh.
There is in that moment no requesting of action on her part to fix something (which is often what we are thinking of when we think of prayer.) There is no confession, no adoration, no thanksgiving, no formula.
Instead, there is being together and laughing together, knowing that there has also been nearly 40 years of working together and crying together and misunderstanding together and simply being together. And we’ve discovered that trying too hard to get it right almost always doesn’t help.
I wonder whether, perhaps, if we sometimes showed God stuff that might make him laugh with us, we would broaden our understanding of prayer. You know that Peter would have shared memes with Jesus.
Sometimes, I show him me. And we laugh together.
Photo credit: Dustin and Corynn
Other couple credit: Kiley and Tyler.