Fair Warning – I’m trying to write this while sitting in Thou Mayest which is across from Grinders in the Crossroads District of Kansas City. Why is that important? Because the band that’s performing tonight is warming up and it’s loud. Therefore, I might seem a little foggy. That would be why. But we’re writing weekly! It’s exciting! I’ve enjoyed this new discipline in my life and the outlet it’s provided for my thought-processes and I hope that you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Thanks for following along. Let’s get to it.
Life is loud, isn’t it? Lots of noise and a whole lot of confusion. Lots of pretty girls and handsome guys, plenty of music to choose from, and a Grand Canyon of confusion when it comes to life purpose. Where is it all heading? Where are we going? What’s the point?
If you’re anything like me, these questions have a sort of rapid-fire effect. You lay there in bed at night and start to ask yourself basic questions…”I wonder where this job is taking me,” or “where is this relationship headed?” or “Have I actually made any progress toward my goals for this year yet?”
The primary problem is that I like to control things. I want to have a plan and to be in control of life – not necessarily a bad plan – but when you spiral into crippling anxiety and worry every time something doesn’t go your way or you hit a bump in the road, something’s wrong with your outlook on life.
You see – I think I can save myself one day, and the next day I’m ready to wave the white-flag and say that overcoming obstacles isn’t even worth the energy, because I can’t do it on my own anyways. Surrendering to life isn’t the objective and it’s the wrong idea, but surrendering to prayer may not be such a bad plan.
For a while now, I’ve held God at arms-length. It’s easier to pull a Heisman and keep him out of certain aspects of my life. And if I don’t read my Bible or pray, then I don’t have to be confronted as often by the Holy Spirit. It serves the purpose of allowing my pride to swell and grow unfettered. But pride comes before the fall. And I’m being pruned. He won’t allow the branches that lack fruit to remain intact.
Paul E. Miller is a humble and brilliant man. I’ve never met him. But my friend Jake suggested that I read the book that last time I saw him, so I am. Jake’s the kind of guy you trust, even if you don’t see him much. He’s just got this wisdom and charisma and he’s going places. And Paul seems like the kind of trustworthy uncle or grandfather that you could take any of life’s problems to and he’d want to sit down and pray with you. He wrote a book called “A Praying Life” and I’ve been reading it.
I’d say the main theme of the book is to pray. Obviously. But really – it’s quite simple – just pray. I think we all have a little ADD when it comes to prayer…”Hey God, it’s me again…I did something else stupid…by the way, what’s the deal with so-and-so lately?…Why haven’t you given me that extra income yet?…Squirrel!…Oh…Uhmmm…amen.” But it’ll amaze you. Once you start, you don’t want to go back. Soon, the times when you’d be cussing under your breath in a frustrating situation, you’ll find yourself saying, “Lord, help me.” I miss that sort of natural prayer-life.
When I was younger I left a voice-mail on my friend Joey’s phone. It was probably something nominal, like letting him know I could spend the night after I finished my spelling words or something. (His parents were like assistant-coaches in my life. As often as I went over there on the weekends, I think of them as a 2nd set of parents. So grateful for that family.) Anyways, back to the voicemail. I leave the message and at the end I find myself saying, “In Jesus name I pray, Amen.” Click. I hang-up. Mortified, I realize I just ended a voice-mail like it was a prayer. I’m sure Joseph saved that message for a couple months after for his own amusement, but it was proof that prayer came natural in my teenage days. And I’m ready to go back.
I tweeted earlier this week that I thought life should come with a warning-label. “WARNING: This is gonna be freaking hard.” If you take the easy way out, you’ll have to do it again anyways. A house built on sand doesn’t stand. You’ve got to put the work into a solid foundation.
So for me prayer is saying, “Hey Jesus, this whole life thing is pretty tough. Want to walk through it with me?” His answer is always, “Yes.”
So stop worrying and get those things off your chest. Let Him take care of the rest.