Pray Without Ceasing

“Prayer is weakness leaning on omnipotence.” W. S. Bowd

I used to say: I’ll pray for you, more as an expression of faith than a promise. I meant it. I meant to, but I often forgot. As more and more people came into my life, my promises to pray increased. I’d jot down names and sometimes circumstances, to insure I would remember. But I continued to struggle. I’m not a person of few words. How could I cover all the needs of so many?

“Rejoice always, pray continually.” I Thessalonians 5:17

Reading Thessalonians only made it worse. Surely there had been a slip of the pen or some kind of cultural confusion that would excuse me from what I read as two separate, but equally impossible directives: always rejoice; always pray. I’ve gradually come to view the second as a condition of the first. The more I know Him as my constant companion, the more I rejoice, the more I pray. This has led to a significant change in how I pray.

The answer for me (I’m only speaking for myself) has been to step back from praying such didactic prayers. I’ve quit telling God how to meet other people’s needs. I do still pray very specifically at times, but I also take out my list every day and I just sit before the Lover of my soul and bring each name, each heart before Him in quiet petition.

There are innumerable times daily, either during my interaction with someone or as a person comes to my mind, when I pray for just a few seconds, often without words, relying on the Holy Spirit to intercede. It’s like an old-fashioned prayer meeting except my heart, not my lips, mummer a name or an uh huh or a yes Lord, as rejoicing informs my prayers, and praying brings rejoicing.

“In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” ~ John Bunyan

Pain Blockers

“Human beings develop elaborate defense mechanisms to block pain and gain significance. We suppress emotions; we are compulsive perfectionists; we drive ourselves to succeed, or withdraw and become passive; we attack people who hurt us; we punish ourselves when we fail; we try to say clever things to be accepted; we help people so that we will be appreciated; and we say and do countless other things.” ~ Robert S. McGee

The lists of common every day defense mechanisms seems to keep growing as we become a society that is increasingly both self-focused and self-conscious. Freud’s initial 7 have been stretched to 15. I picked 8 that you can find in action on any street corner any day – maybe even where our streets meet.

(1) Denial

(2) Rationalization

(3) Intellectualization

(4) Displacement

(5) Projection

(6) Withdrawal

(7) Repression

(8) Compensation

For most of us, our desire for acceptance and our need to avoid pain is so great that we consider our defense mechanisms a necessary item of clothing. Uncomfortable leaving the house without them, we often don’t take them off at home either. We even wear them when we’re alone. They become so much a part of the skin we’re in, our faces begins to meld with the masks.

Defense mechanisms protect us from being consciously aware of  thoughts or feelings we don’t think we can handle and the ones we just don’t want to look at. But here’s the rub: they don’t eradicate these uneasy thoughts and feelings, they just re-channel them, leaving us with the same angst and need, now expressed so indirectly, we can even fool ourselves.

The need to avoid hurting at all costs and the desire to be attractive, witty, confident and charismatic is overpowering. The questions are simple, the answers, a little more oblique.

Am I more focused on my weight on the bathroom scales or the weight of my words?

Do I put most of my effort into being interesting or in showing a genuine interest in others?

Am I more concerned with being right or in living uprightly?

Do I see pain as a problem or a process?

Whenever I choose the first, my defense mechanism of choice kicks in and protects my fragile ego. When I choose the second, I step out in grace towards the truth.

There’s a time and a place for defense mechanisms, but the time is short and the place is small. Healing can only be as deep as our awareness of our need for it.

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” Psalm 51:6

More

This is the precursor to tomorrow’s post.

This is not the end here at this grave
This is just a hole that someone made
Every hole was made to fill
And every heart can feel it still–
Our nature hates a vacuum

This is not the hardest part of all
This is just the seed that has to fall
All our lives we till the ground
Until we lay our sorrows down
And watch the sky for rain

There is more
More than all this pain
More than all the falling down
And the getting up again
There is more
More than we can see
From our tiny vantage point
In this vast eternity
There is more

A thing resounds when it rings true
Ringing all the bells inside of you
Like a golden sky on a summer eve
Your heart is tugging at your sleeve
And you cannot say why

There must be more

There is more
More than we can stand
Standing in the glory
Of a love that never ends
There is more
More than we can guess
More and more, forever more
And not a second less

There is more than what the naked eye can see
Clothing all our days with mystery
Watching over everything
Wilder than our wildest dreams
Could ever dream to be
There is more

Candle Lighter Award

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. ~ Edith Wharton

Thank you for The Candle Lighter Award to:

Kate @ Believe Anyway

The Candle Lighter Award is for a post or a blog that brings light to the world. The only thing the recipient is required to do is accept it. If the recipient thinks someone else is a Candle Lighter, they can give the award anytime they wish. There’s no limit to the number of times you can give or receive this award. ~ Kate Kresse