Prayer is pestering.
Being a pray’er means being a pest. Kayla McClurg, a shepherd with the Washington, DC-based Church of the Saviour, reminded me of this regarding the Lectionary readings from July 28, 2013. It is the story from Luke’s gospel where the disciples asked Jesus how to pray. And he tells them, in what has become one of the most oft-quoted and prayed prayers around. But it is not simple rote.
The story reminds us that prayer involves closeness and intimacy with God, for we can call him “Papa” for that is what “Abba” means in the Aramaic and Hebrew, not ‘father’ as it is sometimes translated; father is too austere for the playful and proximate stance we have with God.
I remember when I was a kid being in the car for too long left me antsy and itchy, so of course I would squabble over and over again, “when are we going to get there?!” or the ubiquitous, “are we there yet?!” until my dad gave me an answer. I am so grateful that God is not like my dad or I’d be in trouble for my dad’s answer sometimes involved a swear word and always involved that wearied parental frustration that came out not only in his tone but in his furrowed brow as well.
When I pray, I dare say, I am just like that to God. I pester God. I bang on the door; I knock until my knuckles bleed; I search until every stone is over turned and tossed. I refuse to stop when I am hungry for more of God and God’s love and world.
Prayer is pestering God for more of God.
Prayer is persistence as well. Prayer is like calling someone over and over again until they answer the phone. Prayer is the persistent widow who would not take no for an answer. Widows were the most vulnerable in those days, aside from orphans, and as women with no husbands they had no right to demand anything, so when Jesus likens the way we should pray to God the way the widow did, that was extraordinarily empowering. It is extraordinary because Jesus is saying when we communicate with God, not just talk, we are communicating with the Source of all that is and we should do so with a radiant mixture of awe, wonder, love and child-like trust.
The trust we are seeking with God in prayer can be likened to that of the little boy sitting in front of me this morning at Mass who crawled up into his momma’s lap during the Eucharistic prayers seeking a comfort he knew would be there without any doubt or rebuke. God is like that…Maternal like a mother hen who gathers her chicks. And it is to this God we ‘pesteringly’ pray.
I said previously that prayer is about communicating with God which is more encompassing that talking, for words can fall so short when communing with the Divine Lover. I communicate with my body, my mind, my spirit. I communicate with God through nature, through love, through service. I communicate in Silence. I communicate when I am angry. But regardless of form or function, ALL of it is communication and all of it is prayer to and with God.
Pester. Pester. Pester. Because when we are pestering God, we are seeking God’s face, God’s heart, God’s very Being. And pestering God is far better than not doing so, for in all of it God is the beginning of our prayers and God is the very end as well.
So, pester away prayerfully at God.