Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ferrets and the language of prayer

One of my favorite dads at our church affiliated preschool told me a WONDERFUL story yesterday... a story that made me want to put down the candy left on my desk this morning and write a blog post. Now that's a good story!

When this dear dad was recently helping to put his kids to bed, one of his children closed out their prayer time with "in the name of God, the father, the son and the holy ferret" O MY LORD!! That right there is why you have children my friends! How great is that story?

I have laughed and laughed thinking about that moment with those sweet children and their parents...and how the parents must have gotten cramps from trying not to laugh (too hard) at their sincere praying child. I couldn't help but flash onto the scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral where the funny old priest says "father son and holy spigot" So far I haven't made that slip at a Sunday service, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time!

The language of prayer is indeed a funny language...even when all of the words are technically "right". In fact I think we have so exalted the language of prayer in our minds that it makes us afraid actually to pray sometimes. Countless people over the years have said to me, "I don't know how to pray." Or, "I don't know what words to use". And I understand that...especially in times of extreme joy or extreme sorrow.

But even in the ordinary days and circumstances it can feel daunting to pray. And so maybe we take a cue from the culture that says "just do it" and we just do it! Just incorporate daily conversations with God. Like a person training for a marathon (so I am told! sheesh I can walk about 2 miles before I'm praying....for death!) it's the daily small steps. If we "wait" to pray until we have the time, the right words, or even the desire...we're going to be waiting a long time.

For the children growing up in the aforementioned household they will know from their earliest days that both of their parents are people of prayer. They will know that prayer is something you do all the time....not just on Sunday when the big lady in the white dress is praying fancy words from a book. Those kids will know that prayer can happen even at home, at night in a bedroom filled with dolls and stuffed bears.

A wonderful priest named Paul Fromberg is fond of saying "prayer is telling the truth to God". It's as simple...and complex as that. Like conversation with a true you tell everything too...and one you listen to as well. Prayer is about relationship....that's it...and sometimes relationships need words, and sometimes they need silence, and sometimes they need tears, and sometimes they need anger. All of it is bound up in true relationship.

So take a moment...right now....and breathe...and thank God, or ask God, or yell at God, or question God. Take a moment to pray. In the name of the Father, the Son, the spigot, the ferrets, and the Spirit. Peace.