"dream great dreams and find the courage to live them"

-erwin mcmanus

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Two months ago, I began writing about a practice called lectio divina.  I began to write, but never finished it, for whatever reason.  I'll finish it eventually, but I find it ironic that I haven't taken the time to write about a traditional practice of coming before the Lord in silence and expectancy and in that same span of time, I have not taken the time to practice lectio divina myself.  It's no wonder...

The thing is, I don't have any excuse.  Life didn't get any busier; in fact it seems to have slowed down in a lot of ways, and yet I haven't taken the time to write anything or spend time listening to God.  This is a problem.

The past week or so, however, I have spent every quiet moment in desperate prayer.  Prayer mostly for clarity.  I want to know what the outcome of a particular situation will be, so I've asked God for clarity, and per the recommendation of an esteemed colleague, I asked for it differently than I normally would:  on a timeline.  I said "God, I ask you for clarity by Friday."

To me, it seemed specific enough.  Of course, I don't know the mind of God, so when His response to that request didn't come the way I had planned, I responded the way that I always (unfortunately) do when I experience strong emotion:  I cry and I doubt.

Sometimes when we pray, they are answered in ways we don't expect and perhaps fail to understand.

The Father, who knows all things, knew that what I needed wasn't necessarily clarity in this one situation, but clarity about why I was responding so strongly and about why I was leaning the direction I was.  I posted a while back about triggers, about how things from our past can influence the way that we experience things even years later.

Another word for a similar concept is "stronghold."  We hold false beliefs about ourselves that are sometimes based on lies that we have been told or that we believe to be true based on our circumstances or even our relationships.  Those strongholds can so easily have a tight grip on how we see things, how we make decisions, and even how we live our everyday lives.

I, too, have strongholds.  Ones that I am largely unaware of, because I haven't given myself the opportunity to work through them.

God's truth is bigger than any lies I could possibly believe about myself, and his truth can push away those lies so that we can see ourselves clearly.

Praying for clarity perhaps didn't give me clarity about my situation, but it did give me clarity about what was going on in my head.  He does answer prayer, and often in ways we don't even realize we need.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

whispered prayers.

I recently watched a movie called the Tree of Life.  While I wouldn't necessarily recommend the movie, it got me thinking.  Throughout the film, you hear voiceovers of a little boy's prayers.  Some are spoken, but some, the most intimate, the most daring things are merely whispered.  He asks hard questions and tells the honest truth in those whispers.  Things like "why do you let Daddy beat me?" and "why did you let my brother die?"

Questions like these are dangerous ones.  Not because there are no answers, but because if we really got the answers, we probably wouldn't like what we hear.  We ask these hard questions sometimes with timidity - a sort of hesitancy that could be attributed to a wariness of the real answers.  Truth is hard to swallow sometimes.

It makes me more conscious of my "whispered prayers."  What are the things that I ask and think, but don't verbalize for fear of the response?  Man, if I trust the God who put the earth into motion, should I not trust him for answers to my little fears, my lingering doubts, and even my deepest, heart questions?

Let us develop the courage to even say those whispered prayers, and then let them become spoken ones, as we learn to trust more and more in the One who gives us more love and security than we could ever need.