Simplifying Prayer

The pastor, at his wit’s end with what to do about the man who was sinking faster and faster, told him, “You have to pray more.”

The man, in all earnestness and desperation, stated that he was prayed out. Perhaps the man was victim to the linear notion of communication, straight line from me to you, from I to Thou and hopefully back again.

Under those circumstances, you expect to hear right back unless you, an extrovert are communication with an introvert. Then you might have to wait awhile.

Schooled in that same one-dimensional notion of communication, I have tired of
that waiting game.

However, in a counseling course I once took, the teacher discussed the ex-
ponential nature of communication.

If it comprises just two back and forth, it’s two. Add one person and
it jumps to nine. Add one more and it jumps to sixteen lines of commun-
ication at any one time and so on.

No wonder a family of four has such difficulties just getting along and the individual members being understood.

Now if God is understood as three persons in one and in a relationship within self, that’s nine lines of communication right there. It’s a wonder that God has time to communicate meaningfully within self let alone with any one knocking on the celestial door.

I can just hear it: “Now you listen, Junior.” “Oh, now, Father, don’t be so hard on the boy,” “Sophia, stay out of it,” etc.

Add just one more person to the equation and it jumps to the highly complicated situation of sixteen lines going on. The man was just one person. Think about how many individuals are joining the conversation at any one given moment. It’s a wonder God ever gets back with anyone.

The pastor probably could have told the man to go for a jog or suggested seeing a psychiatrist. That would have simplified the communication to one on one.

Or he could have listened, held the man’s hand, cried with him. Perhaps, in the tenderness of that moment, the man might have asked what to do, just between those two.

The pastor could have asked the man what he would like to do. Then, if the man said something like, “I just want the pain to stop,” given it was the man’s initiative, the pastor could have suggested something like going to the hospital, and then offered a prayer of thanks to God for God’s love being in the silence, in a touch and in a tear like Jesus with Mary and Martha before they went forth to the tomb of Lazarus to experience a miracle.

It could have been that simple, leaving the the Trinity to work out the details.


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