29 November, 2006

Engaging God: What is a "Timeless Prayer?"

When you can pray a prayer that's just as true on the day you meet your Lord as on the day you praise Him at His throne, that's a "Timeless Prayer."

Lord, guide our leaders as they face this crisis.
Lord, heal the rift between my brother and I.
Lord, provide the need of Your body.

These are all great prayers, and necessary, joined as they are to needs in time.

Lord, You order all things for Your glory.
Lord, You are the Ligament that joins brothers together.
Lord, You are our Daily Bread.

These prayers are just as true to the situation, but they are also true 10,000 years from now when you are standing in His presence. In every prayer there is a little of the timed and of the timeless, and we are blessed by both. But, since we are trying to start a little blog based on the latter, let me illustrate the difference.

My little boy had to get his first haircut. We hopped in the car, and all was well. We got out, and we talked of our plans for the day. We went into the barber's lair, and the munchkin was chipper. We took our seats, and he was bored. Then the barber waved him into the seat, and he came unglued. His eyes filled with liquid agony, as the certainty arrested him that I was sending him to some murderer with a buzzing guillotine.

He prayed of me that I would relent, but I was merciless. His mother had already tried that on me, and if she could not sway me, this boy certainly wasn't going to. (Could neither of them see Goldilocks as "he" climbed trees all over our yard?) He clung to my leg, and averted his gaze from the man of sin. Eventually, he looked at me, and really saw me. I watched him as his little eyes measured mine, trying to read whether I meant evil toward him. I took the time to remind him of good things that I had done for him before, even against his wishes. Eventually, he believed in me, and I was $15 lighter.

The trust he found in me was bigger than the moment. It was not exactly timeless, but it strengthened the bond between us for the rest of our lives.

Prayer is an outpouring of the renewed heart to its God. There are prayers of hurt, of praise, of need, of triumph, of love, of coldness. There are prayers together, alone, from a book, ad lib, before a crowd, by a crowd. There are too many kinds of prayer to exhaust them all, but everyone one of them is an outpouring of the heart.

Prayer is also a filling of the heart.

When my boy stopped praying "for" and decided to trust, he grew up a little bit.

My favorite example is from Psalms 42 & 43. The psalmist chides himself. He reminds Himself of Who God is toward him, and chides his heart to remember the Truth of his life. He has real reason to despair, and to ask for relief, but he does something else. He fills his heart with reminders of God's care and power. He kinda asks for something, and he kinda praises God, but really he just declares what's true. And that's enough.

There is a place for praying that the thorn will be removed from my flesh. There is also a place for reminding myself in prayer that God knows about this thorn, and that He is God. Praying against the thorn may heal me. Praying the Truth back to God will heal my broken spirit, even when I cannot understand His plans. We are not on this planet to live long and prosper. We are here to know the Lord, and to love Him and each other. God knows that thorns do not hinder love.

Song 8:7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.

Every prayer can serve both functions, outpouring and filling, at the same time. When you pour out your prayer to God for a toddler's boo-boo, you tell God your concern, but you also fill your hearts with hope in the ever-caring God. Even so, when you pray the most God-centered Psalm back to Him you fill your heart with pictures of the Eternal One, but you also pour out your love back to Him.

When I write a timeless prayer, I skip past the part where I scream for God's deliverance, and jump right to reminding myself that He is a Deliverer. This is a nice blog application, because we can all use the reminder of Who He is. And because I can use the chance to remind myself Who He is. Reading or writing such prayers may take a little getting used to, or it may come naturally, but it is extremely valuable either way.

I pray you find it so. :-)

(For those of you who need to know, Goldilocks now controls his own haircuts. Let us simply say all the women in his life are delighted. ;-)

7 comments:

Milly said...

As a mom who hated seeing my son’s little curls go away I understand her pain. Our experience went much better. It’s funny how dads hate to see the little girls get hair cuts and moms hate to see little boys loose the curls.

I’ve enjoyed reading the Timeless prayers, more so then if I joined in and added insecurities in the corners of my mind, you know the ones that whisper to us, you aren’t good enough to do that. So I read and enjoy. Thank you.

Weekend Fisher said...

Well, ok, but did Goldilocks pick short or long once he started making the call himself?

codepoke said...

Milly,

You know you are more than welcome. You know I fight the same doubts. You know we need each other's insights. Every insight into Christ is valuable.

But then, we need readers, too. :-)

codepoke said...

(Note to self: Must remember to make illustrations less interesting than the subject. ;-)

WF,

I guess I've been surrounded by women who adore long hair so long, I've forgotten there's any other type. Yeah. He would not be allowed into the Christian school that I attended - as a visitor even. :-D

At least it's not shoulder-length yet.

Milly said...

.
I guess I've been surrounded by women who adore long hair so long, I've forgotten there's any other type.

Is this your hair also? ;-}

I know that I am welcome, just working past the me stuff you know. Someday I might surprise you. I have a travel Bible on my list of wants so on my down time at work I can read, might be a good moment to work on something. That is if it’s quiet enough in the break room.

codepoke said...

Is this your hair also? ;-}

Haha. :-)

No. That ain't me.

I'll wish you good luck in the break room, even if it's for my own selfish reasons. ;-)

Milly said...

You knew that I knew it wasn't your hair style ;-}

It's a good selfish. :-}