Thursday, June 3, 2010

what prayer is

This definition has been rolling around in my head since I read it about a week ago. From Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy:

". . . prayer to the God of Israel and of Jesus, the living and personal God of the universe, is intelligent conversation about matters of mutual concern." (chapter 6)

The feeling I first had when I read that, and which has lingered, was some combination of delight and relief. Of course that's what it is. It reminded me of the time when I was worried about my eldest daughter, and someone wise told me, "Pray about it. God cares about her even more than you do, Jess," and I felt relief, realizing that it was true, that I didn't just share this burden with Him, but that He could completely shoulder it Himself,and was simply allowing me the dignity of carrying it with Him, as I allow my children to help me with my duties.

But that God and I have mutual concerns - and I immediately realized that we do - was a realization both homely and humbling. Things from the spiritual growth of my children to my own habitual temptations to the health of my husband to the health of our church, even to the health of our nation and to the spread of the gospel. Some more mine than others - but all of these things that concern me also concern Him, and we can talk about them, much as my husband and I sit at the end of the day and talk about our household concerns. 

Not that I am God's equal in the way I am my husband's . . . but that there is something of that same mutuality. That (because He has lent me Himself and I have started to grow a little like Him) I do care about things that He cares about, and that we can discuss them together.* That I can ask my questions, and that I can listen to Him as He answers me. That I can present a situation and that He does have an opinion on it, and that He will, at times, share it with me.

"Intelligent conversation about mutual concerns." It keeps rolling around in my mind, and I keep savoring the flavor of the thought, trying to let it inform me, to teach me what to do with my anxieties, to remind me Who I am to bring them to, and how I am to hold them lightly, so that He can take them from me. 

God be praised for His great goodness to us. God also be praised for his servant, Dallas Willard. It is amazing how God lets us share in His work.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

*Also, I can't help but note, that if there is something in my life that I feel does not concern Him, it is probably a sign that A) I am wrong or B) it is something that should not be in my life. If you pray about everything, you just might end up repenting a lot. Not that that is bad. It is, actually, very good. Hard to hide when there is light coming in through every window.


MomCO3 said...

Jessica, Because I read through Google Reader, I read your posts in reverse order, and coming to this post after your TFT post has me nearly in tears... not totally sure why. I don't think I could cause that sort of injury-- not that I doubt the physics, but I doubt my mental ability to carry it through-- even if I were attacked. It has me thinking of a particularly bad situation that I went through a year or two ago, that had me left living in fear and planning all sorts of moves to avoid being in any further situations that could develop similarly... And I got so that I couldn't take the nest step in what I felt I ought to do.
So this post on DW and prayer has me grateful, and tearful...
Thanks for being so thoughtful. You always make me think.

Jessica said...

Annie, I barely know how to answer you; I just want to cry. I'm so sorry that you are dealing with something so hard, and I'm blessed indeed that anything I say could help, and I'm sorry if anything I say hurt. I'm praying for you.