Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Problem with prayer...

Pneuma: Breath of God Gwen Meharg
Good morning God,
It's been a long and painful night recovering from yesterday's surgery. My guess is that I would not have minded the pain and discomfort so much if I had known that there had been some gain as a result of it. But if you don't mind me saying God, to go through the whole process only to be told in the recovery room that it had not been possible to achieve the desired objective was bitterly disappointing, and not just for me. I wanted to be able to breathe without effort again... was that too much to ask?

So I have spent the night reflecting on yesterday's prayers..
And on the answers to those prayers.

The problem with prayer is that it is a relationship not a miracle machine, and whilst prayers are answered as relationships are deepened and the world changes, it is not a magic solution or some sort of heavenly qwiki-mart where needs and desirables can be bought and paid for by the weight of words or intent of the faithful.

In times of need however, it is easy to forget that. It is easy to succumb to the idea that being in a good (or even great!)  relationship with you means that I have some sort of discount at this store of salvation. That there is shelf somewhere with my name on it, which has my health and wealth and happiness waiting to be bought, if only I have enough faith or grace to pay for it or enough friends to make up the shortfall if I dont.  There are, I know many Christians who think this is what Christ came for - to pay for those things on our personal shelves which we could never otherwise afford - but I'm not one of them - thank you God.

I think we tend to slip into this sort of understanding of prayer whenever life threatens our relationships with you, with ourselves and with one another. But whilst miracles can and do happen, and whilst I believe prayer is the most powerful force in the universe - I do not believe that it is as a result of any credit or debit balance of faith or grace. You are not so cruel or so crass as to deny life, health or happiness based on how many people have prayed, or how much they meant the prayers they offered.

So when I start to reflect on yesterday's prayers, I have to begin with the small but frequent prayers  of thanks we shared throughout the day for the number of wonderful supportive friends and Church family who were holding me in their prayers - especially for the fact that so many were able to let me know by facebook, email and twitter - it was wonderful throughout the time of waiting for surgery and in the recovery room afterwards to receive that steady stream of grace.. just a word, often a joke or something to make me smile - to quell fear, and to remind me that I am not alone in all this, I am with you and I am in the minds and hearts of those we both love.

I prayed as I let go of consciousness. to be safe in your keeping.
And that prayer stayed with me until you woke me with it's answer.
 I am with you Always.

And it will always be thus.

So, OK, I am denied the quick-fix..In my case, at this moment in time, the combination of constriction of the bronchial tubes and the cancer which is in the glands surrounding them made fitting a stent more dangerous than not fitting a stent.

But there are other, albeit slower, ways of gaining the air that I crave.

I am going to have to learn to breathe properly again, to work at it and not just take it for granted - its not rocket science but it will take time and effort. I have to practice breathing deeply and fully all the time, and resist the bad habits of just snatching at breath as and when I want it without care for how my body will supply it!

A bit like prayer really..
Never a quick fix

But surely well worth the effort to live fully.

So, a new verse to my favourate hymn:

Give me air in my lungs keep me praying
Give me air in my lungs this day
Give me air in my lungs keep me praying
Keep me praying til the break of day.

all together now...
Sing Hosanna, Sing Hosanna, Sing Hosanna to the King of Kings
Sing Hosanna, Sing Hosanna, Sing hosanna to the King

p.s. cant help but notice the glorious wry humour in all this God - given my passionate dislike of those who insist in introducing a hushed 'breathy' note into their voice when they are trying to be 'Christian' and caring.


  1. Oh Angie I do love you and your humour
    God Bless,
    Love Syb x

  2. sending lots of love as ever and just trying to imagine "that Angie stare" combined with a "hushed 'breathy' note in your voice"!! mmm........... x x

  3. thank you for sharing this - just what I needed at the moment!

    I've always found that prayers of thanksgiving prove most beneficial (especially at times when it's difficult to feel particularly grateful) and petitionary prayers most difficult!

    I really appreciate your emphasis on the "relationship" aspect of prayer, also your positivity in the face of a less than ideal outcome from the op.

    Wishing you joy in your breathing practice - oh, the things we take for granted.