Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dangerous Prayers

I'm a wimp. I don't like pain and hardship and I've never gotten a charge out of courting danger or loss - for myself or my family. I like being safe and protected and I routinely make choices to preserve my comfortable life. But there have been times I've prayed prayers that court loss and pain. Why? Because knowing and following Truth/Love has seemed like a higher value to me than safety and comfort, worth almost anything I might have to lose to get it -at least while I'm in a cocoon of safety and comfort.

I've been thinking a lot about a deeply passionate prayer that I shouted, cried, and wrote out several years ago after weeks of trying to discern my deepest desire. I asked that my family might know God in his fullness. I have known from experience and intuition that days and seasons would come when I would regret praying that prayer. But still I did it. All that has happened in my family's life, and my heart and mind since that prayer has got me remembering these two other prayers, originally crafted by others, which I borrowed over the years, saying them so often that they became my own. Here they are:

This first was written by Amy Carmichael, an Irish Christian missionary who lived 53 years in South India, founding an orphanage that cared for children rescued from a religiously sanctioned sex trade. I quote here from "A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael" by Elizabeth Elliot, c. 1987 Fleming H. Revell

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.

From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified,)
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.

Give me the love that leads the way,
the faith that nothing can dismay
The hope no disappointments tire
the passion that will burn like fire,
Let me not sink to be a clod;
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.

The next comes from Beth Moore, a popular present day Bible teacher. From "Things Pondered" by Beth Moore, c. 1997 Broadman & Holman


Satisfy me not with the lesser of you
Find me no solace in shadows of the True
No ordinary measure of extraordinary means
The depth, the length, and breadth of You
and nothing in between.
Etch these words upon my heart knowing all the while
No ordinary roadblocks plague extraordinary miles
Your power as my portion, Your glory as my fare
Take me to extremities, But meet me fully there.

I've prayed both of these prayers, trembling in my boots, and have internally shouted, "I take it back!" plenty of times. I'm aware of some prayers that others have crafted, that I have refused to utter, fearing either submission to a theology that might throw open the door to unhampered evil, or circumstances of suffering that I hope to avoid. Like I said, I'm a wimp.

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