When You're Tired And You Don't Know How To Pray
I made the mistake of watching some of the debate on the floor of the House of Representatives today on the article of impeachment of President Trump. It was a poor decision, to be sure.
After a few minutes, I had to go outside and sit quietly in the sunshine and listen to the birds' chirp for a while. My spirit is full of disquiet and I have to be honest with y'all... I'm not feeling a whole lot of hope for unity in this fractured country of ours.
I'm not sure where we go from here, to be honest. What I do know is that I am tired as tired can be. I couldn't get that line from Stephe King's Green Mile out of my head just now:
“I'm tired, boss... I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world...every day. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head...all the time. Can you understand? ...”
Aren't you tired? I know some of you are---just as tired as you can get. It's the kind of tired that fills your bones with a heaviness you can't explain. It's the kind of tired that makes you wonder if there is ever going to be an end to it.
It's the kind of tired that makes even your prayers seem like effort.
I read a poem today from the Iranian poet SAID, and it spoke to that tiredness within us. It spoke to me personally about my own prayers, and the muddled way I've been trying to makes sense of the world right now as I pray to God to help me with my weariness, and discern a way forward.
To engage prayer as a weapon
I wish it to be like a river
Between two shores
For I seek neither punishment nor grace
But a new skin
That can bear this world.
When the way you've been thinking and acting seems to be making things worse, and not better maybe it's time to change the way you think and act... and maybe the way you pray as well.
So many of us pray that the world will bend toward our will. We pray for outcomes that match our desires. We pray for punishment for those we perceive as foes and grace for those who favor our intentions. We pray that God would reward us for praying.
I'm beginning to realize more and more that we're missing the point. Instead of petitioning the Almighty to rearrange time and space to give us what we want, we need to be praying for "new skin" in order to "bear this world."
In other words, we need to pray that we would not be the reason there is wrongness in the world. We need to pray that our will would be bent toward God's purposes. We need to pray that we would be strong enough to be serene in the midst of all of the storms of life.
Let me put it another way... Fr. Richard Rohr calls prayer "...a positive widening of your lens for a better picture."
I love that. We need a better picture for sure right about now considering how clouded and chaotic things seem to be. A better picture would enable us to see more clearly what God is up to in the world, and how we might be able to join God in what God is doing.
Perhaps a new way of approaching our prayers will renew our strength to continue doing good, and not grow weary of it. Perhaps we'll begin to learn what it takes to give up our own desires, and instead desire only God, and God's will.
Who knows? Maybe the desire itself will be the source of all the energy we need to discover that new skin, find a better view, and draw us closer to God and to each other.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.