Prayer: a ‘far away land’ or a place near to hand?

Yesterday I spent 45 mins trying to teach myself how to upload video clips from my PC onto my ipad. Not an idle waste of time but something I needed to master for Messy church next week. After much frustration and very little progress, I sat back and said (out loud),

“Oh Lord if I don’t get anywhere soon with this, I’ll have to move on to a different task”

computer-frustration

It wasn’t really a prayer, I was merely venting my exasperation.

But the very next click on the mouse produced a breakthrough – a video suddenly appeared in the necessary place.

You can make what you like of that coincidence but it was a reminder to me that I am never alone.

I laughed out-loud, “I didn’t think you were listening Lord! I hadn’t really meant to bother you”.

If I really believe that the divine presence and divine power is always right along side me, why do I so often forget to pray?

Then, this morning I was reading Eugene Peterson on prayer – he was commenting on Ephesians 3:14 ‘I bow my knees before the Father’. What he said was so good I’ll quote it at length

The physical act of bowing is an act of reverence. It is also an act of voluntary defencelessness. While on my knees I cannot run away. I cannot assert myself. I place myself in a position of willed submission, vulnerable to the will of the person to whom I’m bowing. It  is an act of retreating from the action so that I can perceive what the action is without me in it, without me taking up space, without me speaking my piece. On my knees I am not longer in a position to flex my muscles, to strut or to cower, hide in the shadows or show off on stage. I become less to that I can become aware of more – I assume a posture that lets me see what reality looks like without the distorting lens of my timid avoidance or my aggressive domination. I set my agenda aside for a time and become still, present to God. 

This posture is not in vogue in a world in which the media, our parents, our employers, our teachers and, perhaps most demanding of all our egos are telling us to make the most of ourselves.

(From Practise Resurrection)

I left my reading time challenged to get out the way in my conversations with God. but my next task was to walk the dog, I wasn’t expecting any more revelations about prayer. I was wrong. Hitting the shuffle button on my music playlist the song that came on was called Faraway Land. I’ve heard it many times before but never realised it was about prayer – going to that quiet place inside and listening for the Father’s voice. It struck me so forcefully I listened to it three times straight over and over. I’ll post a link if you want to hear it online:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPn-qpXbW_0

 (it’s performed by Alison Krauss  and Union Street)

When years seem like days to me
No time on my hands
I run away to a place in me to a faraway land

When home seems so far from me
Heaven’s lights grow dim
It’s just as far as my deepest heart
Where my heart’s father lives

His quiet voice speaking in silence every day
If I will only listen to the words he has to say
I’ll walk in his spirit and see him in my face
I will live, ’cause he will live in my place

When life seem so hard to bear
When shadows look real
The circumstance is your father’s care
Don’t find faith by what you feel

If you have been running too
Stop now in your tracks
Turn again to the one in you
And put your burdens on his back

His quiet voice speaking in silence every day
If I will only listen to the words he has to say
I’ll walk in his spirit and see him in your face
I will live, ’cause he will live in my place

When years seem like days to me
No time on my hands
I run away to a place in me to a faraway land

Songwriters
RON BLOCK

I’ve heard people speak about holy places or special moments as ‘thin places’. Times when the division between our natural reality and spiritual reality seem very thin. I’m sure there are such moments and places but it would also be good to remember that the ‘faraway land’ is never as far as I think.

 

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