The human heart holds so many longings. It seems almost inevitable that we would look to something larger than we are to carry our prayers and wishes beyond the possibilities of our own understanding.
Of course, the moment we set free the prayers of our human longings we face another dilemma: what happens to our prayers? When we ask, are we heard? If we are heard, why aren’t our prayers always answered in the ways we would like?
Today, I have been pondering the word “ask” as the advent word of the day. As if in response, I had to consider: what do I ask for?
I am not one to hold out my begging bowl and plead to the Deity on bended knee for small favors. I don’t pray for sports teams, nor for good parking spaces to appear. To me, there is a lot of daily life that truly is just detail unfolding upon detail. You win some, you lose some. Even in the bigger issues of life…health, happiness, relationships, fiscal security…there are lessons to be learned from the challenges, as well as sweet release and joy in moments of uplift. Then, we hit hard issues of life and death, failure and success. I have heard prayers of faithful people, and dubious ones. Bad things happen to good people, and good things to ones I may consider bad. I don’t want to be in the business of judging the worthy and the unworthy, and I cannot imagine conceptualizing the Divine as a sifting place for whose prayers will or will not be given an audience. If that kind of asking and receiving was my litmus test for belief, I would be a flat out atheist by choice.
But, I do pray, and I do ask. My asking forms me each morning:
One thing I have asked of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life;
to behold the beauty of the Lord
and to seek You, God, in Your temple.
My ask, every day, is to be present in God’s motion in the world. It isn’t an easy ask. It is, though, the ask my soul most wants to make. Some days, I still look to the heavens and ask “Why??” or I close my eyes and hear the longings of my soul calling out, “Please!” Of course. These are the prayers of human longing with which we are created and have our being. God wants them, the way in which we want to know the cares and longings of our beloved so that we can respond. God seeks this same relationship with us, and meets us where we are. That is the nature of Love. Prayer is living in the active flow of that Divine Love.
Everyday, this world is filled with the longings of our hearts, our thanksgivings, our prayers. In all our asking, God is Present. Incarnate. Loving us, exactly as we are.
In response to the AdventWord global advent calendar project with the Society for St. John the Evangelist. Today’s word: #ask. Follow the worldwide advent calendar at: http://www.aco.org/adventword.cfm