I think that I have a skewed view of prayer. I usually imagine myself in the throne room of God, approaching Him in awe and fear. Once I have His attention, I try to guess what I might ask for that He would be pleased to grant me. Sometimes He answers my prayer, sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes I wonder if what I prayed affected the outcome of my life at all. But the section in The Artist’s Way on synchronicity has really got me rethinking my concept of prayer.
Answered prayers are scary. They imply responsibility. You asked for it. Now that you’ve got it, what are you going to do? Why else the cautionary phrase “Watch out for what you pray for; you just might get it”? Answered prayers deliver us back to our own hand. This is not comfortable. We find it easier to accept them as examples of synchronicity…
“Ask and you shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened to you…” These words are among the more unpleasant ones ascribed to Jesus Christ. They suggest the possibility of scientific method: ask (experiment) and see what happens (record the results).
Is it any wonder we discount answered prayers? We call it coincidence. We call it luck. We call it anything but what it is–the hand of God…
– Julia Cameron
Like I said, these words have really got me thinking and here’s why:
Throughout The Artist’s Way, I’m told to write lists. Lists of the ten things I want to do before I die. Lists of the first twenty things that pop into my head when I think of what I would “wish for”. Lists of alternate lifestyles that I’d like. Weird stuff has been happening after I write these lists.
I wrote that I wished that I had some comfortable shoes. I’ve been wearing lackluster Payless and bargain bin shoes for several years now and I’m beginning to feel it in the balls of my feet when I lay down at night. For years I’ve been keeping an eye out for Chacos, but I never can find any for under $80-$90. Last night I found a pair online for $44.
I wrote that I wished that I knew how to dance. I’m a terrible dancer. People tell me I’m a terrible dancer. I still really wish that I knew how to move my body in a graceful way. As I was walking down the street in Old Town Lewisville on Thursday, I looked across the street to see a shop with these words emblazoned across it: TAP – BALLET – MODERN – IRISH – JAZZ – HIP HOP. I decided that I would see if I could get a group of girls together to form a dance class. The first girl I asked, Lizzy, told me that she had already been wanting to learn how to dance in preparation for her upcoming wedding. She had already done some research and learned that a mutual acquaintance of ours is a dance instructor and might be willing to teach us herself.
I’ve long felt that back massages and back scratches and back tickles are one of the greatest “goods” in the world. I’m convinced that we can fight Satan just by giving and receiving back massages. On my drive down to visit my aunt in Kerrville last week, my shoulder started aching and I wondered to myself whether I would be totally out of line to ask my aunt for a shoulder rub once I arrived. I decided that I was a big baby and could just suck it up. The first morning at my aunt’s house, she said, “Do you like back massages? Because the Lord just laid it on my heart to bless you with a back massage.” She bought an hour long massage for me. Not only that, but the massage therapist threw in an extra half hour just for the heck of it.
Now all these things are very simple, very trivial. To me, they don’t seem like important things that God would care about. But honestly, it’s really hard to look at my life right now and deny that God is not answering the unwhispered and suppressed prayers of my heart. I don’t know why He’s doing this, but He is. And I would be stupid, not to mention ungrateful, to turn down any of these “synchronicities”. You know what it feels like? It feels like I’m in a relationship where my lover is making all these romantic gestures to win my heart.
I’m really interested to hear all of your thoughts on this. Do you think that God works in these kinds of ways? Yes? No? I want to know.