on talking and praying

“In the lovely name of our Lord Jesus.” That’s how one of our friends used to end prayer.

“Father Dear”. That’s what another friend would say instead of “Dear Father”

The way we structure our conversations with people is a reflection of the kind of relationship we have with them. The kind of relationship we want to have. The formality, the topics, the timing.

I think about the ways we talk when we do the thing we call praying in contrast to the ways we talk when we do the thing we call talking.

When we are praying, we often start with “Dear” and end with “Amen.”

When we are talking, we just start talking and then we stop.

When we are praying, often, even in the most distraught moments in the ER or with a family who had just received tough news, people will take off hats. They will grab a hand or fold their hands. They will close their eyes. They will look like they are doing something different.

When we are talking, especially in the most distraught moments, we will walk around, we will interrupt, we will get annoyed, and then tell stories, and then cry, and then wander off.

When we are praying, we will sound like we are trying to get a formula right, trying to remember a carefully structured appeal to parent that makes promises and expects followthrough.

When we are talking, we sometimes are using a formula, until the person we are talking with says, “just stop.”

Martha clearly wasn’t “praying”. She was talking.

“Lord,” she says. “Don’t you care that I’m left taking care of all of you all by myself? My sister isn’t helping at all. In fact, she’s doing what she always does, sitting. Can you tell her to help a little?”

And Jesus says, “just stop.”

And then he talked with her.

Perhaps we could be okay with less praying and more talking.

More tomorrow.