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August 30 • In The Name Of...!

Day 783


My prayer life is changing. It has changed. As a leader in various faith communities for many years, my prayer life has changed before. Influenced by books and sermons from the elite of big-name pray-ers, as well as camp counselors and youth sponsors, I've had an inexhaustible supply of lessons on how to be a better invoker of God in my life.


I've attended seminars on making prayers more effective (whatever that means) and learned to pray like the ancient mysterious character Jabez. I've been taught to pray with my eyes closed, my hands folded in front, my hands raised above my head, my eyes open reading a prayed-over prepared invocation, my closet door closed, my knees bowed, my heart pure, and my sins repented. I've been taught that I cannot pray to Santa-god for a new bike, but I can pray to the great healer to heal my bunions. I've learned to pray directly to the Father, but always in the name of the Son.


During all those years, I thought a better prayer life would help my sex life, both the illicit part and the licit. I would ask God to help me control my porn compulsion, but I don't remember asking Him to remove it from me. I asked God to intervene in my marriage, but only for the results and changes that I wanted, which I thought were true Biblical conjugality needs.


Then I stopped praying in the ways I'd been taught. I'd still say the occasional grace or give a corporate prayer for a church event or community gathering; those prayers were part of the image I was still maintaining. I began — earnestly — trying to pray without ceasing. I envisioned a constant conversation with the almighty that included my needs, wants, good days, and bad. I was looking for less formality and more intimacy. As much as anything, it became a convenient way to not pray.


Now I'm learning to pray again. I'm learning to pray from sex addicts. Yeah, that's a hoot. The most scorned and rejected sinners of my evangelical tribe are teaching me things about prayer that are changing me. Even those among us who claim agnosticism or atheism have contributed to a new understanding of this dynamic between my Higher Power and me. I don't think I can explain that right now, but I am very much aware of it.


So, what am I learning? Well, nothing earth-shattering and nothing that would equate to having God's unlisted phone number. I prostrate myself spiritually and humbly; I ask for help in identifying my responsibilities and defects, the removal of those defects, and the strength to do the next right thing.


I give thanks for life's provisions, and I ask for serenity, courage, and wisdom.


Then I listen.


–JR

 

You grieve you learn, you choke you learn

You laugh you learn, you choose you learn

You pray you learn, you ask you learn

You live you learn


–Alanis Morissette, “You Learn”

 


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