The other day, a friend of mine at Carey college was sharing with me and a few others how grieved he’d been lately (due to various tragic things happening to people close to him). He mentioned lying in bed and trying to pray, not knowing what to say, and eventually just offering an extended, rumbling, inward groan to God…
Now, prayer is both a simple and mysterious thing. It’s simple – in that it is simply a giving-sharing-offering of one’s thoughts, concerns, feelings, stresses, hurts, anxieties, etc. to the One who we believe ‘hears’ prayer (more on ‘hearing’ in a moment). But it’s also a complex and mysterious thing, complicated by various (mis)understandings about both God and prayer (not least the popular ‘magic genie’ [or fairy] idea of God).
I’m not wanting to answer every question here about prayer, but rather reflect on this idea of groaning to God…
We believe that the Creator ‘hears’ our prayers. Mind you, God is spirit, so He (with the exception of God Incarnate, Jesus of Nazareth) has no ears, of course. But God’s lack of physical ears doesn’t render Him unable to hear us.
Also, God (with the exception of God Incarnate, Jesus of Nazareth) is not a human being from one particular time, place and culture; so another thing that God doesn’t ‘have’ is native language. But God’s lack of a native language doesn’t render Him unable to understand us…
Which makes me think again, of my friend and his groaning to God… I wonder that this kind of ‘gut-level’ groaning is perhaps more ‘speaking God’s langauge’ than the high, lofty, supposedly ‘eloquent’ prayers that most pray-ers offer…
This groaning, questioning, wrestling, searching, wondering, ranting, moaning (you get the point) kind of praying is not what you’d hear in most churches. However, it’s what you’ll see in most prayers in the Bible.
Some of the lyrics of the Jars of Clay song ‘Oh My God’ come to mind just now…
Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief
Weddings, boats and alibis
All drift away, and a mother cries
(full lyrics here)
I think the prayers of many Christians have more to do with a calm, cool, collected ‘firm belief’. Our souls (our selves) are not grafted upon His grief.
The God who with no body takes on flesh and feels the worlds’ pain.
The God with no beating/pumping heart takes one on and has it pierced with the worlds’ grief.
The God with no ears takes them on and listens to our groaning.
…and thus making the invisible eternal activity of God visible.
“No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” – John 1:18