Muttered Prayers, Uttered in Vain?

icelateAcross from me a guy is having an interview. I can’t help but eavesdrop.It’s been a while, but it seems to be going well. I feel inclined to mutter a quick prayer for him. For confidence, favor, provision.It makes me think of small prayers, and if such a thing truly exists. The idea of appealing to the Father –Master and Creator of the Universe, the one who summons the earth–on behalf of another is significant to me. A bit like going to the Supreme Court–the Highest Law of the Land–on behalf of a person or situation you’re not that well acquainted with.That’s agape. In many letters Paul reminds the churches that he’s praying for them. He asks for their prayers too.

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” –Ephesians 1:16

His mentee Timothy, follows suit.

“First of all, then,I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” -1 Timothy 2:1

I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day”2 Tim 1:3

My small, quick prayer in between sips of lukewarm Hazelnut coffee might be astronomical in his universe. I wonder what this job, if acquired, would mean for him. Is he nonchalant? Or has he been sweating over this 8 AM appointment? A family depending on him? Or just looking for extra cash to fund a new drum set, a mission trip? I don’t know if that prayer instantly calms his nerves,wiping out an assault of negative thoughts from the Enemy. Or if I’m simply in agreement about a position he’s been fasting and praying for. Still, I love the idea that God can have us in a seemingly insignificant place and prompt a prayer, that I admit I’m too apt to regard in the same manner as well wishes. Good Luck. Fingers crossed! Thinking about you! As if those sentences evaporate into the air ducts, void of power. As if they don’t reach the throne of the Most High. I’m beginning to wonder if this prayer was for me. It has definitely created awareness, and a desire to not discount any prayer–short, tall, long, or small–as less potent. I anticipate seeing the “small” ones– the hushed, muttered, last-minute prayers on the highlight reel of my life. What they accomplished. What they prevented. How, no matter what I thought or how I felt at the time, they weren’t in vain.

A New Thing

I love new things. Blank journals. An unswiped lipstick bullet. Changing seasons. Mondays.

Don’t even get me started on new years.

Few things excite me like a good do-over,so I’m thrilled God is God of the New Thing. The Great Repurposer. When Isaiah writes (43:18) “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?…,” I imagine the pronouncement spoken with the gusto of a ringmaster. It conjures up expectations of the fast track–ministries that bloom from 5K members to 50K in one year,dream jobs unobtainable without favor, debts wiped out, criminal records expunged. A Tabula Rasa with one wave of his mighty right hand.

The Word is thick with examples of God using regular ol’ people in impossible situations to do spectacular works in His name and for His glory, launching new seasons of their lives in tandem with new movements for the kingdom. I look to Abraham and his billion descendents; Moses, The Great Deliverer; Mary, Mom to the Messiah. It stirs my spirit.

If this is how you do New Things, sign me up Lord! Here I am! *waves hands in the air*  Have your way!

The rush of dopamine in my brain fogs my memory and I forget about prerequisites: The murder and exile that predated Moses’ calling to be Deliverer. Abraham’s abandonment of his family and his land before the promise. Christ’s bloody cross as a prerequisite to our reconciliation with The Father.

Sacrifice and surrender precede the possession of new territories.

The cross calls for death to old routes, approaches, and methods. To former ways of thinking. To small fistfuls of faith. It requires increase and stretching, which is itchy & uncomfortable & the idea of spiritual stretch marks is often more unappealing than the invaders that groove your belly and thighs.

The New Thing isn’t always cinematic, involving infernos and parted seas.  For every light show, there are pitch black still moments. An unfamiliar landscape that appears, from this distance, to have no shape or form.  Frustratingly, you can’t recognize anything until you’re right up on it.

And what you can see doesn’t make sense.

You find you’re not gaining, you’re losing–financial stability, friendships, status, & carefully curated plans. You’ve been looking for the familiar in the unfamiliar, believing that God is going right until he goes left, North until he goes South, pushing you 3 steps forward, before you’re yanked 5 steps back.

Unnerving, uncomfortable, nonsensical.

You can’t figure out where He’s going with this. You don’t know what’s taking Him so long. I identify with Paul when he asked “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34)  But it leads to less confusion, to more contentment.  I find peace in the idea of God being well…God. Not in a spirit of resignation, but gratefulness. How horrible it’d be if God were confined to my meager thought patterns, if He was only able to traverse the paths in life I’ve carved out.

Instead, because His thoughts and ways are higher, I can embrace the unfamiliar.

It’s okay that the territory is foreign.

It’s okay that I don’t recognize anything on the narrow path.

It’s okay that I don’t know…much of anything about this situation, that I can’t put a finger on his M.O.

I know Him. When I don’t know anything else, I know Him.

God who keeps those who walk with him on level ground. God who goes before me. Fire by night. Cloud by day. He Is. Presently. Always.The God of the New Thing is God of my Right Now–even if now doesn’t feel good.

He is good. And I know that he is working everything for my good.