On my daughter’s 21st birthday, cherishing the time we’ve had together, and the joy it has and will continue to bring me, I have a question about our life and communication with God.
Is it all about war?
“Prayer warriors” is a term that comes up a lot in conversations, referencing, of course, the spiritual warfare language of Paul from Ephesians 6 and other scripture. But in a reflective conversation this morning with a man who knows something about the life of prayer, we wound up reconsidering how we frame our communication with God. Wondering as we often do at the small number of participants at various prayer events, we wandered around the various metaphors scripture uses to describe our relationship with God. Father/Child is used far more often than General/Private. The conversation of “Abba, Father” intimacy is vastly different than the “destroy the enemy” conversation. Enoch “walked with God” and was not. The Eden experience was an experience of walking in the garden in the cool of the evening. The Moses on the mountain conversation was a make-your-face glow kind of being together, and the fruit of walking with the Spirit–of which I assume conversation is a big piece–results in amazing things: love, joy, peace, patience…you get the idea. Why don’t we say “Prayer Gardeners” or “Prayer Walkers” or “Prayer Caretakers”? You could even take the conversations of Jesus and his followers, or between Jesus and those who were seeking him, as metaphors for prayer life.
If prayer isn’t primarily laundry-list-asking-for-what-I-want, but is instead rooted in seeking relationship with God, perhaps “Prayer Warriors” may not be all that helpful as an overarching moniker for the whole enterprise. If I went into every communication with my wife through the lens of war…well, how often would I want to talk? There are certainly times when war is on in life–both as metaphor and as literal fact–so “Prayer Warrior” is right on target some of the time. Evil is out there, and the enemy certainly is at work, and to pray against his work is necessary and appropriate, and perhaps a daily activity. I’ve certainly been on my knees in battle, and the “attacks” of life are pretty non-stop. But surely war is not the whole deal.
I’m having dinner with my son tonight. I hope he just talks to me, not framing everything in terms of battle and help me, help me, help me. Knowing him, and knowing us together, it won’t go that way at all. We’ll talk friends, music, the upcoming school year, questions, and oh yes, some specific things he is going to need from me as the next few months unfold. And do I have some things to say? Things he needs to listen to? Sure, and I’ll bet he takes some time to listen.
I can’t help but think God must want that from us as well. Just to walk with Him, talk about the full range of life, listening, wondering, asking, describing, hoping, meditating, hanging out, even fighting. I wonder if we’d talk with Him more, listen more closely, let Him color our thoughts more, if we didn’t always think of prayer as war, but instead saw it as walking in the cool of the evening with Him.
It’s pretty sweet…