Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What stands in the way of prayer?

I think my difficulty in coming to Jesus in prayer, and when I say Jesus I mean also The Father and the Holy Spirit, has to do with mistaken identity. Not only my own but God's identity is hidden from me. To give an almost comic example - and one I often reflect, is the allogory taken from a short story called "Three Lessons from the Amazonian Jungle."

Renato, a character in Pamuel Houston’s book, Waltzing the Cat, tells an interesting story that speaks to this phenomena of misunderstanding. "Monarch butterflies make blue jays throw up. That is how monarch butterflies keep from being eaten. But over the years, by a process known as Batesian mimicry, several other butterfly species have learned how to color themselves to look like the monarch every time a blue jay comes around. The problem arises when a blue jay’s first experience is with an impostor butterfly. If the blue jay doesn’t throw up that first time, he will spend the rest of his life not knowing which are the safe butterflies and which are the ones that will make him sick."

In this I see my problem as so clear. I keep mistaking God for what I know of others. My experience with others, their experiences with me invariably come down to disappointment and confusion. Of course, it is not always disappointment. I have many wonderful (if I can use an overworked word) experiences with others. (meaningful, profound, healing, deep, truthful, etc.) But those experiences are limited. I am, for the most part, (hopefully) behaving with civility. My raw neglect of others, my propensity to gussy up and garner praise always creeps into the picture. But going to God, (the God of Abraham), going to Jesus (the manifestation of God is human form - fully God and fully human), I have nothing with which to impress. And if I step into the nothingness with which to impress, for even a glimpse of his merciful love, I am flattened by the absence of any way to appropriately respond. How do I show appreciation? How do I love back? Enough??? Of course, I can't EVER.

This a fragment of the thinking that comes into play when the question of "why don't we pray more?" arises.


  1. Congrats on the blog! Great thoughts. This seems like a great place to have such discussions.

    Love your profile pic.

  2. I know this fabulous photographer who collects taxes as a hobby.