Prayer Personality is Real

In all of my years of following Jesus (Christian spirituality), the theme of deserving or proving that I am good enough to be loved by God is a constant in my readings and struggling in my own life.  It is a battle, una batalla.  Why is it so hard to receive and experience the unconditional love of God?  

In prayer, God is inviting us to experience the presence of love.  

“All we need to do is to be open and available to the undeserved and unreserved love that God has for us…In prayer the true self can emerge because the person is loved and accepted without condition or qualification.”

Guided by the Spirit: A Jesuit Perspective On Spiritual Direction

Prayer is a means to experience the love of God.

Prayer is a means to meet our true self that is loved and accepted without condition or qualification.

To be liberated then is to uncover and discover the true self as we experience the tender and fierce love of God for us.  

Prayer will become more unique to each person, much like a fingerprint is unique to each person.  No one person prays the same because there is no one else like you.  We might be comforted and learn from the way others pray.  But God’s love compels us to discover the unique way we respond to God’s initiatives in our lives.  

My prayer life is a lot like my daily relationships and life.  I like to have conversations with others where there is a time to listen and a time to share, a time to ask questions and a time to make statements.  A time to laugh, cry, or sit in wonder.  I see a counselor and we have deep and great convos.  I hang out with my wife and we talk about anything that’s on our minds and hearts.  We also argue.  I like to be outside of my house and breathe under the sun.  I like to plan and think about the future.  I like to dream.  

This is also how I pray.  It’s very dynamic, emotional, and honest.  

“Prayer is God’s revelation in the joys, pains, moods, and day-to-day ordinary events of life.  All this and more forms the stuff and substance of prayer…Prayer is a gift from God.  It does not create God’s presence or make God any more loving or available.  It simply helps one to become more aware of the various creative ways that God is already present and active in one’s life.  It consists not so much of what we do, but how much we allow God to do, to act in and through us, to gift us.  Prayer is an awareness of God’s constant and loving presence and action.”

Guided by the Spirit: A Jesuit Perspective On Spiritual Direction

This paradigm flips the whole notion of prayer on its head.  Some like the “roteness” of a schedule to pray.  It’s part of their personality.  And in some seasons of life, it will be needed.  Others like it to be much more dynamic and fluid.  Whatever someone’s prayer personality is, the one truth needed is that prayer is God’s primary effort. 

God is wooing us to pray.  We just ask for the gift of grace to become aware and respond.  

Robes and Vulnerability

“They dressed him (Jesus) up in an elegant robe”
Luke 23:11

They’re obviously mocking Jesus. He was stripped, practically naked.

Was his vulnerability too much for them?
Was he too exposed?
The image too real?
His heart of love worn on his sleeve too much for them?

He was naked.
They mocked him.

Did they, for a moment, realize that maybe he was the King and quickly mocked and robed him?

Does someone’s transparency and vulnerability sometimes cause others to mock and create their own image of the other? A safer image. Or an image they can mock?

Vulnerability and (religious) absolutism clash.
Transparency and nakedness seems too uncomfortable for the well suited.

His naked silence was met with mocking contempt, a robe to cover the truth.

And the truth?
“Not my will but your will be done”
“Father, forgive them”
“Into your hands I commit my spirit”

Family Value: Self-Motivated

My childhood required me to be self-motivated and driven. It was in part to survive but also because I wanted something new that I hadn’t experienced before.

My wife and I are very self-motivated and driven. This means that we don’t need someone telling us what to do every corner. We do need advice, some guidance, and support along the way. But our dreams and hopes give us fuel to be motivated.

We also value freedom and personal responsibility. Our work will need to speak for itself. The way we carry ourselves and care for others will be signs of our freedom and taking responsibility.

We hope to pass these values on to our boys. We know their path will look different than others. We don’t expect them to be like us or to do the things we do. But we hope that they will learn the value and practices of being self-motivated and to take personal responsibility.

I’m not the smartest person. Really. I’m not. But these values and actions push me to exceed my limited “smartness”.

Self-motivation and drive translates into practices of living out of my hopes and dreams, my goals. It means I’m going to think through my goals and how to reach them. It means I’m going to ask others for help along the way. It means that I don’t need someone telling me, step by step, how to live my life but instead to encourage me to keep discovering, being aware, and taking responsibility.

It’s a different way to parent as well.

My kids grades are a reflection of multiple layers. While I care about the letter, I care about the effort and motivation. And it’s their grades to own. Yes, they need support and we’re here for them. Yes, they might not like certain subjects and struggle with some areas. But ultimately, we want them to own their studies.

There is a lot of empathy and grace for this process. Especially during the pandemic. 🙂

A Shift In Church is Now Here

A shift in church world is now here. People have been talking about it happening for a while now. But it’s here. The pandemic ushered it in.

NOTE: I’m using CHANCE THE RAPPER as an example of someone who is incarnating this model of living. He recently produced a movie and bypassed all the regular norms, going straight to the movie theaters. No media company needed. No distribution needed. Others who are doing this include Kendrick Lamar, Snarky Puppy, and the late Nipsey Hussle. All created their record labels and did things are their terms.

Here are a few things I’ve noted:

**women will be pastoring and leading movements. They already are and they’re thriving!!

1) people of color will no longer give blind allegiance to predominantly white churches. They will speak peace (respect) and if it’s not returned, they will take their peace (respect) back and move on.

2) the multi-ethnic/cultural (race reconciliation) issue will not go away. it’s here to stay. And it’s messy. A book series won’t cut it. A few dinners won’t fix it. There will need to be some deep hearing from God, listening, and voluntary displacement.

3) The gospel message will need to address the idolatry of nationalism within the four walls. Politics will not go away within the church walls.

4) Mission and justice locally will need to be a primary discipleship task. The gospel shapes both.

5) People who are seeking the Kingdom of God will do it Monday – Friday. Sundays will be more about a healthy liturgy where the people do the work of organizing themselves around rituals and relationships in small pockets. It will be a small blip compared to the discipleship, spiritual formation, and relational work being done in the workplace, neighborhood, city, and family.

6) we will need more spiritual director pastors and less “WORK HARD/PRAY HARD/LET’S CRUSH IT” charismatic leaders. These spiritual director pastors will connect with business leaders, social justice leaders, congregants in their spaces more than in church spaces. These spiritual director pastors will be deeply entrenched in prayer, hearing from God, and helping others discern what the Lord is saying to them.

7) Jesus followers will form more spiritual/social networks within their range of living, making it easier to support each other, pray together, and seek justice and peace in their local communities. They understand that the real work of faith is done locally, not in the church service.
😎 The Sunday church service is still needed. But not as much as an embodied faith is needed Monday – Friday.