The broken prayer


The Broken Prayer…


Habakkuk


What was it that I needed to do?  I prayed with faith.  I prayed with expectation. I prayed unceasing. I cried out early in the morning. I cried out in the cool of the evening. I prayed with others, and I prayed alone.  I had a contrite spirit. Didn’t I? You promised, and I cried out.  What was I missing?  What was I to do?  My Prayer was broken…I was alone.

In my aloneness I found disappointment.  In my hurt I found that anger was close.  Not hostile and not HOT, but very much real and very much close.  Something that I needed to deal with, certainly, but I wasn’t certain as to how or even how much time I could take.  When I had gathered a bucket full of hurts I had still not found a way to empty it.  In truth, the bucket wasn’t that heavy and had not become a real burden yet so I had a tolerable level of pain. It did have a nice handle! It also had a spigot, near the top.  It was used to release the need for justice.  I could open it up and drain off that little bit to make room for more.  I could open it with prayers to the Lord of Justice.  Prayers that showed why I was right and true and merited that justice I was given.  Problems from time to time came when something got in the way of the spigot and nothing would run out.  Something to big and to hard would stop the drain.  Then the trouble came when I received the last, or rather the latest, hurt.  The fact that it was a surprise meant there was no room in the bucket.  I hadn’t prepared myself for the additional load, and the icky goo was now a problem.  If I touched it, it was on my hands.  If I spilled it, it was my mess and I would be told about it.  If I just put it on top, it oozed over the edge.    My bucket was full and my burden was real, and my prayer was broken. Why couldn’t I just have a larger bucket?  Some people had really large buckets, and they could carry not only their own but the burdens of others.

The burden was large and the bucket was broken, and the spill was ugly, smelly, and messy.  I couldn’t leave the mess, and I didn’t know what to do.  I felt broken, like my bucket.  I was embarrassed that these things were exposed.  Embarrassed that I was still dealing with them and still carrying them around. I tried to pretend it wasn’t so, but it was a lie and I knew it.  At the end of the pain it was I that was empty… and the bucket was irrelevant.  It was as this broken and messy  “prayer” that I found the One that would give me a new bucket. It was smaller this time, that was a surprise.  The instructions on how to empty it were written in larger print. On the bottom.  It also said to “empty daily”, that will be new. Then it became clear to me.  The prayer broken made me the broken prayer…

Acceptance is a hard thing.  Think about that.  It is hard to accept that you are accepted. I received a smaller bucket because somehow I learned that I needed less.  Less to carry, less to hold onto.  I had been given a repository, a “place” to offload the wound and the disappointment.  The bucket I now carry is not one that also has a spigot, which is used to drain off the need for justice.  It runs out the bottom and is the only thing that fits through the valve.  I then noticed that justice was at the heart of all of the other pains and problems.  “It’s not fair” is the lament of the small child from early days.  The grubby fingers of the two year old that wont release their grip, mirrors the same in words of forgiveness withheld.  Regardless of age, the grip is strong.  We pray and wrestle and get exhausted and come again to this place we are so familiar with… acceptance.  Can I accept the idea that there is one in charge with a plan that while I may not like, is one that is for the long goal?  Can I, in the knowledge of my anger and frustration and singularly willful desires, be found accepted.  Even now. In my mess?  It breaks me. Still…

And so I wonder about my petitions to a silent God.  The requests unheeded, the answers yet to arive.  I wonder as I age, am I not still the selfish 2 year old with nothing but demands and no accpountability.  Are my prayers only expectations and not praise?  Being a broken prayer means that I am flawed in my requests.  Being a broken prayer means that I am humbled by the idea that I deserve so much more than what I was given in regards of justice.  Being the broken prayer means simply that I limp.  You can’t give what you don’t have, so to give grace is to have been given grace.  To give great grace is to have received great grace.  The idea that you are aware of the greatness of that grace is also the awareness of the great need of it.  This is the paradox that is a conundrum.  If your expressions of grace are limited and hobbled by a list of reasons and justifications, you perhaps have been missing the awareness of the acts of grace that you have received, and the neediness which brought it about.

If the knowledge of this is enough to break you.  Then you too, will become a broken prayer.  Soon others will notice the change.


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