Sunday, July 26, 2009

Throwing Prayers

Excerpt from a sermon I gave last Sunday:

Perhaps it is the very act of prayer itself, the act of longing and waiting and crying through our times of waiting and emptiness, that trains us as God’s people. Not prayer for once, but over and over and for always. Prayer that teaches us almost like the physical act of throwing, training each muscle again and again to strain toward God, developing strength that never would have come if we did it only once and expected to be done. And every time it is a healing kind of prayer. Prayer that gives up easy answers and makes its home with the churning sludge of uncertainty and mystery, prayer that gives up a faith that cannot survive the worst and the worst that cannot survive faith, and simply says to God, “Here I am. Take all of me.”

We are called in our times of waiting and emptiness to voice our cries and give our prayers to God. To lift the heaviness of disappointed hopes and the difficult work of grief and forgiveness as many times as we need to and throw them back to the one who made us, the only one in whom our stories have a chance of making sense, the one who in his mercy, may remember us.

And through this practice we may come to see, however dimly, that it is on the edges where God makes himself known—on the edges of deep suffering and grace, of terrifying darkness and impossible light, of community and solitude, of words and silence—that we live our lives as those who trust, but know not, those who have grown so accustomed to throwing prayers that we believe in the strength it produces, over and over training deep in the very muscles of our bodies a yearning for God that will never die.

And what, is God’s response? His response is ever and always the same … he is silent, he is comfort, he is unfathomable in the pain of evil in this world, he is full of a love so beautiful it takes our breath away. We hold in our hands both grace and pain and cannot say at times which is the heavier. But whether our cup is full or whether our heart is broken, let us take them both as from God’s hand and throw our lives—every moment, every day, every act—as a prayer back to him.