Monday, January 20, 2014

(Trying To) Manipulate the Lord Through Prayer

There's a thing we look for in mental health when working with patients or even reflecting upon ourselves: motivation.

Why do they do what they do?

As I was examining my prayers this morning, I had the thought: "Why do I pray for what I pray for?"

Suddenly, it dawned on me: I've been trying to manipulate the Lord!

What do I mean?  Well, let me give an example of trying to manipulate the Lord through prayer:  "Help me get through this just one last time, and I promise I'll be good forever!"
God, you can have photos of these AND MORE for helping me with my real problem and saving my life, I SWEAR!

Ever do something like that?   Yah, I didn't need to ask, sorry.  But I suddenly saw in my own prayers where I was simply trying to "eek" through or "skate by" and asking the Lord's help to do it, rather than taking a serious, responsible, mature, healthy interest in my own salvation and well-being.

Going back to this inspired entry HERE,  rote prayers and repetition, well, anything other than introspection, contemplation and reflection, are not the best we can do with the Lord when we pray.  Sure, there's a time for a "Thanks God" and that's it, but if that is the full extent of our prayer relationship with him, preceeded by "Please help me and I promise with cherries on top I'll ______" then we really are just using the Lord rather than being yoked with him.

What does it mean to be yoked with him?  It means we accomplish the journey together.  He pulls, I pull.  I stumble, he helps me up.  We turn together.  We rest together.  But life, as a journey, requires much more introspection, thought, consideration and preparation than simply begging like a pre-teen to get what we want and then running off forgetting the giver of the gift.

So if I ask to be spared a calamity?  Well, who wants calamities? But why am I asking to be spared?  Just so I can live in comfort?  Leaving the Lord to suffer for my sins while I refuse to join him in any way?  Lot's to think about there, but fortunately/unfortunately, only we can do it ourselves and only we can answer for it when it is over.  And we will receive the reward we strive for.

So if we simply are praying to "eek" through and arrived unscathed, well...we just might.  But we shouldn't expect to arrive at any great stature with much deepening of wisdom if this is as far as we strive in our journey.

Our goal is to be yoked with the Lord, not simply manipulate the Lord, and thereby cheat ourselves of this experience we call mortality.

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