Many people aren’t sure about God. I don’t mean about God’s existence, though there are people who, for reasons of reason or of heartbreak or of both, have concluded that that there isn’t a god.
Instead, I mean people who are unsure about God because they feel distant and disconnected from the God in whom they believe.
I’m guessing that such distance and disconnection make it true that a lot of people who say they pray actually don’t, at least not in the ways they wish they did and not in ways that nurture their confidence in God’s love.
I think that many people forget that God is like Jesus: filled with compassion for our brokenness, passionate for everything wrong to be made right, welcoming of everyone, forgiving of our failures and sins, confident that we can begin again and again, and certain that we can become the people God dreams we will become.
When he was teaching his disciples about prayer (Luke 11), Jesus told them a story about a man who, about midnight, had a friend drop in on him and ask for a meal and a place to sleep. His pantry was barer than poor Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, so he went to a neighbor’s house, banged on the door, woke him up, and asked to borrow three loaves of bread.
The man’s neighbor wasn’t pleased to be jolted from a sound sleep. He shouted from his bed: “Don’t bother me; I can’t get up and give you anything without waking up the whole house.” The man on the other side of the door kept knocking and kept asking. Finally, the sleepy neighbor got up and gave him what he needed.
Jesus’ point was that, if a drowsy neighbor finally gets out of bed and does what is right, then God, who isn’t sleepy and stingy, will respond to us with an open and loving heart. “So I say to you,” Jesus said, “ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”
Ask because God is a kind and generous friend.
Seek and you will find. With God, the quest leads to discovery, and the pilgrimage takes us to the land of promise.
Knock and the door will open. There is no need to live in loneliness.
Jesus trusted and embodied a God whose love restores, sustains, and shelter us, who delights in us, and who calls us “my son” or “my daughter.” God is a strong mother and a tender father, who whispers to us, “I’m here. Don’t be afraid” and cheers for us, “You can do it. I believe in you.”
Prayer isn’t so much about asking for things and getting things. It is, instead, the practice of being with God, sharing our lives with God, and resting in God. In prayer, we become surer about God, even if we’re unsure about everything else.