John 3:8

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Near the beginning of my time here, my housemate taught me how to properly eat tilapia from the whole fish.

It's really an interesting thing, because before she told me, I would always end up with crazy amounts of bones in my meat. Because I didn't know where the bones were, I didn't know where to start, so I would just dig in, and make even more of a mess of things. Gia taught me where to start--from the middle, where the backbone of the fish is located, and just to cut it open gently. If you press too hard, as I had been doing, you break other bones and pick some up from the other side of the fish--in short, you're left with a mess.
Why do I tell you this story? Because I think it has a lot of implications for our spiritual lives. I have slowly been reading through a book John Sender gave me called, The Praying Life: Connecting With God in A Distracting World by Paul Miller. In the first few chapters, he discusses our need to come to God as little children, and part of that is that we come to him as we are.
Now we've heard this a million times in our lives. But how many times when we pray, do we try to make prayer feel a certain way, or look a certain way? We end up praying generic sentences like "thank you for this day", or " "please bless so-and-so" or at least I do...

So, do we often pray what we think we "should" be praying, in hopes that it will make us more spiritual? Do we flounder around, trying to think of "good things to pray"? I have definitely felt like that, and not unfrequetnly, if I am honest with myself and with you.

And so I found that prayer is like eating tilapia. We have to start at the right place--not a "cookie-cutter, spiritual" place. Rather, a real place--wherever you are. I found that I don't have to think of 'the right things' to pray; to make sure I pray the most spiritual prayers; to make sure I am having a 'deep' conversation with God. In fact, if I try to do this, I am trying too hard, and I will only end up with a bigger mess. I have ended up feeling like a hypocrite.

Paul Miller said in his book, "The kingdom comes when Jesus becomes king of your life. But it has to be your life. You can't create a kingdom that doesn't exist, where you try to be better than you really are. Jesus calls that hypocrisy--putting on a mask to cover the real you.
"Ironically, many attempts to teach people to pray encourage the creation of a split personality. You're taught to "do it right." Instead of the real, messy you meeting God, you try to re-create yourself by becoming spiritual. No wonder prayer is so unsatisfying.
So instead of being paralyzed by who you are, begin with who you are. That's how the gospel works. God begins with you. It's a little scary because you are mesed up."

Praying things only because they seem "right" or "spiritual" never gets me anywhere. Instead, I am left with more things to sort out in the future, more bones to pick out, if you will. the more I try to overlay a better me into my prayer life, the more I am decieved.

So I give up. I'm done trying. Instead, I am going to pray for God to help me start from who I am.

Messy as I am.