Category Archives: questions

A prayer for persistence on Monday

God, it’s Monday.

You knew that. You know that lots of my friends are asking you for lots of things right now. For peace while waiting to find out about cancer. For patience while waiting to find out about a daughter. For endurance while preparing for a quest.

And we keep wondering about the answers, about the peace and patience and endurance. And joy and healing and deliverance.

I think I’d like to talk to them about the time, Jesus, that a woman was asking you for freedom for her daughter and you just sat there. Silent. I mean, you sat there long enough that your disciples said, “Can we just get her out of here? Clearly, we’re not going to get any rest while she keeps whining.”

You said that your target audience, your niche, your ministry focus was “the lost sheep of Israel.” That’s why you were on vacation outside of Israel. To get some time off. Or that’s how it reads.

The woman came right in front of you and got on her knees.
“Help me,” she said.
“But you aren’t one of us,” you said.
“But even dogs get crumbs,” she said, acknowledging a cultural stereotype and not giving up.

You told her that she had great faith. You only said that to two people. Then you delivered her daughter from the evil one.

Your interaction went from silence to pronouncement to conversation to deliverance.

I think that I stop at silence. Or pronouncement.
Do I stop at assuming I know what you mean?
I think I miss the opportunities to converse with you.
To understand better what you want.
To persist to deliverance.

Help me persist. Deliver us from evil. And would you talk with my friends please? So they know your silence isn’t anger?

Amen.

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How can I start praying again?

Dear Jon:

Something just hit me and I hope I don’t get struck down for saying this: I used to pray, something I used to do quietly on my own since I was a kid. But a year ago or so, I began questioning the purpose: If God has a plan for me and knows what I need, why barrage Him with all of these pesky DMs? But, if the purpose of prayer is more to lay our woes at His feet so they aren’t constantly zinging around our heads, then that makes more sense.

Dear friend:

I understand your thinking. I’m wrestling through some of the things that we tell people about prayer myself. What I’m pretty clear about though is that praying is more like this conversation we are having than it is like DM’d spam.

Think about our relationship, you and me. We’ve met face to face just a couple times. But we touch base through twitter pretty often. And we email several times a year. And we are both involved in a group of people who are interacting with each other at least quarterly.

Though we are able to do things for each other, particularly help each other think, the best part of our relationship is that we have a relationship. We are friends in ways that surpass the distance, that surpass the specific actions we can do for each other.

The content of the communication is often less important than the fact that we are interacting. Every touch, every exchange, deepens and enriches our understanding of each other.

I think that’s what God’s desiring as we pray. Doing stuff is part of it. Sometimes it’s handing off woes. But the bigger thing is developing a relationship between persons. With one of those persons being God.

Related posts on prayer:

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teaching stories

Kelley and Michael walked into my office. They asked a simple question about a person. I started laughing. They just looked at me.

I said, “Sometime I’ll be asked a question that’s not answered with a story.”

And then I spent five minutes telling them a series of stories about the person, stories that answered their simple question.

Those of you who have asked me questions know that I have a story for almost everything, a story of almost every item in my office. And I will inflict those stories on the person asking.

The reason I do that is not to amuse or confuse, though that is often the result. The reason is that a story takes you into the experiences that surround the mug or the pad of sticky notes or the timer or the candle on my desk. The story gives you a glimpse of the values that I’ve attached to the object. It takes longer. But you might understand why on the way to understanding what.

Jesus often did the same thing.

“How many times should I forgive my brother,” Peter asked, perhaps looking at Andrew. “Seven?” “Seventy times seven, “Jesus said. And then he said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.” And Jesus tells a story about little debts and big debts and gratitude. The disciples move into the story. They feel the outrageous ingratitude of one of the servants and the righteous indignation of the master. They learn more about the values of the kingdom. They begin to understand that the grace they have been shown should shape all of their interactions. And from the way Jesus uses story so often to teach, they see that sometimes hearts crave understanding, not just right answers.

Here’s a video version of this post.

an ordinary Monday

Hope stood in the study at the Kilns. It was the study where C.S. Lewis worked in the house where he lived. She looked out the window that he looked out while he was trying to figure out the next word. She looked at the desk that has been set up to look like the desk he might have used.

The house has been lived in since he lived and died there. The furniture has been moved. The trees have grown, brush has been cut. The space wasn’t at first preserved, it was used by someone else.

What is most striking is that it is ordinary. There are leaves outside the window. Not lions, not literature, leaves. There are pens on the desk, sheets on the bed, ashes in the fireplace.

Discovering that writing that shaped me was written in such ordinariness is convicting. It means that I can’t go to that house and expect to write thoughtful, brilliant prose.

It’s the only second Monday of the year and I feel like the year has already evaporated. I think I want a new one. I keep wanting to get new books, whether bought or lent, to read for ideas.  I’m finding that I would be best served by thinking through the ideas I have. I keep wanting to buy blank pages, pads and moleskines and amazing calendars. I keep thinking that outside that next window or page or story will be the the best one.

But I’m thinking that rather than rushing the next year, living this one would be a good idea. Instead of always reading and buying blank paper, reflecting might be wise. And maybe saying this morning, “You are God, I am not. I’m glad you love me.”

Who knows what I might see outside my window?