“It was a shiny red bike you saw in the store- ‘God, give me this bike and I won’t ask for more!’ Under the covers you prayed through the night, but when morning came there was no bike in sight.” (Does God Hear My Prayer? by August Gold)
We have all prayed for our own “red bike” at some time or another, and to be perfectly honest, why not? Prayers on our hearts are important and allow us to be vulnerable and bold when relating to God. However, it is incredibly frustrating to discover that prayer doesn’t work like the genie in the lamp… you have three prayers to be answered any way you desire. Not likely. Prayer is the deeply spiritual language of a relationship with God. The Psalms are filled with prayers of lament and anger while also including prayers of praise and yearning for God. The Gospels show Jesus praying for others, sneaking off to pray, and pleading in prayer with God in his deepest times of trial.
Barbara Brown Taylor, the Butman Professor of Religion at Piedmont College in northeast Georgia, an Episcopal priest, and the author of twelve books, including the New York Times bestseller An Altar in the World, explores God’s silence. God’s silence reveals tension between sovereignty and obfuscation (it’ll be defined in the video).
Watch and listen as Barbara Brown Taylor wrestles with the mystery and unknown in a prayer life with God.
Despite our earnest and honest prayers, God may not show up in a way that is pleasing to us. It may feel like God is silent. Or you may get that new “red bike” you prayed so hard and longed for and want to tell everyone about God working in your prayer life. All of these experiences are part of the mystery of a life with God.
Fr. Richard Rohr’s prayer comes from Psalm 46:10 of Hebrew Scriptures: “Be still and know that I am God.” Use this prayer to try and draw yourself into a contemplative frame of mind. Follow the instructions below and use the video to guide your prayer OR simply follow the instructions of contemplative prayer.
1) Find a quiet place, gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Prepare to pray the Psalm in 5 consecutively diminishing sentences.
2) Either aloud or quietly to yourself, say the words, “Be still and know that I am God.”
3) After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be still and know that I am.”
4) After a couple deep breaths, pray “Be still and know.”
5) After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be still.”
6) After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be.”
7) When ready, pray, “Amen.”
Question for Discussion:
Where is God when our prayers are not answered?