where?

alone

Written by Mandy Thompson

She’s just a girl with a guitar. And, in a perfect world, Mandy would spend her days writing songs and soaking up the sun. But, life is life. And, while not perfect, her life is good. She serves as Director of Congregational Services at The Chapel, in Brunswick GA. If you asked her about her position, she’d say her main course involves developing worship experiences, with a side of creative design and social media for dessert. Tasty!

December 19, 2011

alone

I should probably confess that prayer is one of the most difficult of all the means of connecting with God.

In fact, right now I prefer to sit in silence than squeeze out a prayer.

Wait. Maybe those are one and the same.

Maybe.

I wrote this in my journal recently:

…the truth is that I’m still not seeing You anywhere in all this. I don’t mean to offend You. I don’t mean to hurt You. I just don’t see You.

So, God, if You’re in this room with me: “where?”

Sometimes prayer feels like I’m standing in a dark room and I know that someone else is there, but I can’t hear them or see them or touch them. All I know to do is ask “where?” and hope for an answer. And keep asking, until I get an answer. This question is not a denial of their presence; in fact, it indicates a belief that someone is actually there. More doubt is shown in not asking at all–in not requesting an answer. To ask is to extend an interaction. To ask is to assume that someone is there in that dark room that will answer. To ask is to take a step of faith.

In all my prayerlessness these days, I’ve surprised myself with a few honest moments of interaction. And that day in my journal, and that day in my own soul, I felt a quiet wash of peace over my life and circumstances and faith when I simply asked “where?”

You know, in hindsight, that might’ve been one of the most important prayers I’ve ever prayed.

That’s me—all blind and wanting to see.

What about you? Do any of you ever feel like you’re standing in a room in the dark trying to find the One who’s in the room with you?

20 Comments

  1. Diana Trautwein

    Thank you for this beautiful small work of art, Mandy. Perfection. And truth, too. I truly do believe the fewer words offered in prayer, the better – and the more real. Acknowledging the Presence and also the Absence is part of the process. We serve a Mysterious God, a God of love and power and righteousness and holiness. But mysterious? Yes, indeed. And who would even want to serve a God we could penetrate with our feeble understanding? This is just lovely – and for me personally right now, spot on and helpful. thanks so much. And thanks to you, too, dear BibleDude for publishing it. (Is Duane still editing this section – if so, thanks to him, too!)

    Reply
    • @bibledude

      “To ask is to assume that someone is there in that dark room that will answer.” This statement smacked me upside the head BIG time! I’ve asked often, and gotten frustrated at what seems to be a lack of response. But I guess there’s more faith in my asking that I ever realized. I think Mandy painted a great picture of what this feeling is like, and showed some truth about the reality of being in that place.

      Duane has stepped back from editing the PRAY category due to his busy school schedule. But Ms. Mandy here is going to try contributing in this space for a little while… and if this is representative of what she will contribute, then I think I like it… A LOT!

      Thanks for the feedback Diana!

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Dan: I’ve been meaning to say thanks for letting me get some of this out here. And that pic is absolutely perfect!

        Reply
        • @bibledude

          thank YOU for sharing this! i can’t stop thinking about this post, and was just talking to some friends about it! this is the place where most of us live, but rarely talk about. love it…

          Reply
    • Anonymous

      Diana: I’m humbled by your words, and will concur that the simple question of “where” is one of the most real prayers I’ve ever prayed. 

      I’m hoping that this corner of Bibledude.net will be a place where I do some digging and reflecting. And hopefully, I won’t stand alone in the digging. Thank you for joining me.

      Reply
  2. Karen Eck

    People always say, “Prayer is ___” and fill in the blank with lists of dos and don’ts … If prayer can be ceaseless (as we are told it must be) … then I think it is more a transformational confidence in the presence and character of God, than a kneeling/list-long-chant/recitation-of-desires/emotional thing. Of course you were praying, and God was interacting with you as he always is, whether we sense him or not. Knowing and believing he is intrinsic to every moment, no matter what, permeates our experience of life … because he is the difference between meaning and the lack thereof.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      “Transformational confidence” — I like that phrase. A lot. I think it’s going to stick with me. Thank you for sharing your confidence here, Karen.

      Reply
  3. rupzip

    I am not a great prayer warrior. I am too distracted from thinking – concentrating. It isn’t I don’t believe, I just can’t stop the noise in my own mind.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Oh I completely agree with that. All the noise is compounded by the information overload we have in today’s culture. Can I share a story? I recently participated in a sort of retreat/conference which had a few sessions with Ian Cron. In one of the sessions, he led us through a time of meditation. In prepping us, he said we were to practice stilling our minds. And he used the example of imagining our attention/minds/consciousness as a river with boxes floating down it. The “boxes” were all the things that would enter our mind as we’re trying to concentrate on stilling. So, he said to just acknowledge the box, let it slip by, and direct our minds back to the river itself. The visualization was amazingly helpful. Try it. 🙂 & lemme know if it works!

      Reply
  4. Alece

    i have always struggled with prayer. my entire life. it just doesn’t come naturally to me; it always feels forced.

    i’m learning to connect with him in ways that are unique to me, but still push myself to articulate to Him what i’m feeling. even if that means telling Him that talking to Him is hard, that i don’t see/hear/feel Him near, that i’m a sucky pray-er. 

    all too often, i even let all THAT go unsaid… 

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      I feel ya, friend. So, what are some of the unique ways you connect? I’d be really interested to hear. I bet, if we’re real honest, we all pray in strange ways.

      Reply
      • Alece

        i think i connect in writing…  in worship… in quality conversation with quality people… in the late night hours of awakeness when my heart feels at her rawest… in time spent just BEing with people i feel safe and comfortable to just BE around… 

        what about you, friend?

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          I don’t…connect. Well, at least I thought I didn’t, until that “where?” prayer… 

          My conversations with God can be very slow–probably because we don’t talk much. Weeks and months and sometimes years pass between question and answer, between call and response. And, you know what else? The spontaneous-few-and-far-between prayers feel more spiritually healthy to me than the forced-30-minutes-per-morning routine that others have. 

          ………eek. Am I allowed to say that? Dan said I could be honest here. Mkay. There ya go. That’s my honesty for the day.

          Reply
          • @bibledude

            by the way… about that honesty thing… i love it!

          • Alece

            i completely relate to that… 

  5. rain

    beautiful post.
    i used to wonder if my prayers counted if i wasn’t on my knees, eyes squeezed tight. but as i’ve come to learn that praying without ceasing is very much an open communication that doesn’t always need words, i’ve grown to see prayer so differently. and i think that you’ve been praying all along.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Wow, Rain. yeah. Isn’t it interesting how much “undo-ing” we have to do to really learn spiritual disciplines in our own lives. No more kneeling at the side of the bed before bedtime. ps. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Kevin Riner

    Right on. I couldn’t have said it better. I’ve felt that way recently. I love this line,

    This question is not a denial of their presence; in fact, it indicates a belief that someone is actually there.

    I’m with you!

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Kevin, you wanna know a secret? I didn’t get to the bottom of that sentence until I was in my second draft of this post. I had to look at this two or three ways before whittling it down to that basic level. It was almost as if someone was standing over my shoulder, pointing to my words, and saying: “see? you believe.”

      Reply
  7. Nikole Hahn

    Sometimes, I get tired of the same prayers and don’t want to pray for the people…again…on my list, and will sit quietly reading His Word and letting Him show His presence. He knows the crying of my soul for these people, and I know I don’t have to be verbal. I can just sit.

    Reply

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where?

by Mandy Thompson time to read: 2 min
21