Prayer in the time of plague

At the end of this blog is something that makes me feel a bit queasy. Don’t go there if, like me, you tend towards vertigo. This ‘thing’ I’m posting (a gif) has the same effect on me as looking down from a height.  You have been warned. But it makes my point. And now I’ll waste some of your valuable lock-down time trying, and failing, to put that point into words.

Look away now if you have a life to live.

Pooh Bear was a wise bear. He knew that he was a bear of little brain. He understood that this didn’t make him less than others, and that it was no reason to be ashamed. It was simply a fact. He didn’t make the mistake of Adam and Eve who valued knowledge more than anything else, more than peace and plenty, more than the presence of God, more than obedience. Pooh was a stout little soul who knew his place in the Hundred Acre Wood. When I pray, that’s who I want to be. Pooh Bear.

And if I really am Pooh Bear –  OK, I’m getting a bit tired of the metaphor now. Start that para again:

If I know my place in the world, accepting that I will never out-think or out-know my creator, and understanding his nature and mine, happy with the revelation he gives me, then I will never have to step into the place of prayer,  I will already be living in it.

Maybe without words.

That is my desire. To live in silent prayer. To always be aware, intentionally, of who God is and who I am, to always be in awe of who he is, to live wrapped in that thought, and the joy and peace it brings. And silence.

That doesn’t mean that I aspire to be forever on some higher astral plane, living only on the nutrients floating in the air around me, above all practical and emotional aspects of life. It simply means living in this fallen world always aware of his presence and reality, his guidance and care.

If you’re married, you are not forever paying obeisance to that marriage, courting your partner, romanticising every moment, yammering on about love, of course not. That would be exhausting – your partner might have to kill you just to shut you up. But you are always aware of each other. Always faithful, always caring, always conscious of where your partner is.  If she is reading in the garden, she knows that he’s making his fifth coffee of the day.  If he is cutting the grass he knows that she is on the computer pretending to research covid while watching  cat clips on youtube, conscious of each other. If they are sitting together, walking together, the silence is comfortable.

I want to be conscious of God in that way, moment by moment. Not holy-holy pious forever banging on about him, prattle and nonsense (like this). Just, you know, married to him. Walking with him.

And that doesn’t mean forever asking him for stuff, telling him stuff, reminding him about what Bill Bloggs needs, and how sick Salamander Simpson is, or how Boris Bumblechops needs to understand this or Trumpetty-Trump needs to get a grip of that. I just want to walk with my God, knowing he’s there, knowing he loves me, being guided by him, listening for him.

That’ll do me.

I don’t need to have a deep deep understanding of man’s doctrines and histories in order to pray. I don’t need to know the difference between one theological term and another, I just need to wait on the God who is here with me, in this room, now. The creator of the Universe, the ruler of eternity is here with little old me in my crumpled yellow cardi and my sandy barefeet. (Pooh had bear feet. Just saying.) And prayer is accepting that Jesus is the most important presence and truth and the central core of my life.

I’ve lived with words and earned my bread with words, but here, where it really matters, words are redundant. He knows what’s in my heart, the people I love, the cares I have, the desires I lay at his feet, he doesn’t need it printed out or written in the sky, or tripping off my babbling tongue.

He wants me. Not my words. Words are blah-blah hot air. I sit in silence with my God.

I bet some of you are thinking ‘You could have fooled me. How long is this blog going to be?’

Now, in Covid time, more than ever, I am grateful that I can sit in silence with my God. Silence with him, surrendered to him, is prayer. Lost in wonder. Sometimes lost in sadness or confusion or  feeling unsettled, but always with him.  Knowing that he rescues, that he is enough, that all is well.

‘Look to the rock from which you were cut, to the quarry from which you were hewn.’

Last week I heard about an elderly woman who is obsessed with the Endtimes (is that one word?Is it capitalised?) and who thinks that Covid means that God’s plan is reaching its end on Earth. Maybe it is, but we won’t know until it happens. Maybe it isn’t and if we keep obsessing about it we could waste an awful lot of time looking for signs and arguing and justifying our beliefs. There are some things we are not meant to know, and somethings we know but can’t possibly understand. The world will end one day, as all things end. It will die as all things die. And no one has a clue when that will be so why waste valuable prayer time, niggling away at it? All that will do is make us unsettled and tetchy and dizzy.

If this is the end times, or Endtimes, what better way to spend our time than in prayer? Not in questions, or demands, or arguments, or research. Prayer. Covid time is a time for prayer.

Our daughter was little, probably about 6 or 7, when we were downstairs one evening and we heard her crying. We went to the bottom of the stairs and she was above us on the landing, wailing, inconsolable. All she could say, between hiccuping sobs was “I don’t want to think of eternity… it just goes on and on and on and it never stops and I can’t stop thinking……it makes me feel dizzy.”

Lou learned right there and then, that there are some things we will never be able to fully understand,  like plague and suffering, like the end of the world, like eternity.  And when we waste time trying to, we just get dizzy. Like this:

 

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3 thoughts on “Prayer in the time of plague

    1. We all want to find sanctuary in our busy world. Now that the world has slowed down we can see that sanctuary more clearly, hear the whispered invitation to a hallowed place.

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