Book of the Month: A Praying Life

(from Eric)

The current McCropder team book study is on "A Praying Life" by Paul Miller, who helped to found our mission agency, World Harvest Mission.  We've been enjoying it immensely, and I still think the most succinct way of getting at the heart of the book was the first comment I ever heard about it: "Amazing, here is a book about the importance of prayer that doesn't make me feel guilty!"  Though that statement may sound weird to someone who is not a Christian, I would imagine most Christians would have no trouble identifying with the idea.

But to frame a description in positive terms, Paul Miller founds the idea of Christian prayer on the idea of dependency on God, our Heavenly Father.  We pray and we ask like little kids ask their parents, constantly and unashamedly, because we realize how powerless we are.  As our knowledge of our insufficiency increases, we will naturally pray more.  We stop praying when we (mistakenly) think that we are up to the task.  Thus Jesus prayed all the time, because he was supremely aware of his dependency on his Father.  Paul Miller says that he does his best parenting in prayer, which is to say that there is so much in his kids' lives that he cannot control, regardless of his efforts, so what better thing can he do than to bring his needs and concerns to his loving Father, who actually is able to help?

Since starting work at Kibuye Hope Hospital, the percentage of our life over which we have no control has increased.  (And, truth be told, it wasn't overwhelmingly high before that)  To put in another way, the illusion of the degree of control I have over my life has been partially undone.  I can't treat this problem.  I have no way of knowing what is going on here.  This system seems indecipherable to me.  I can't figure out how to explain this adequately in a foreign language.  I don't even know what I don't know, so how do I move forward?  I can't do this.

But we can pray.  And we do.  We pray before we round.  We pray before we head to work.  We pray before we operate.  We pray at bedsides, in conference rooms, and in quiet offices.  We need help.  More to the point, we realize that we need help, and so we pray.

There is so much that we can't do.  But let us fill Kibuye Hope Hospital with a reliance on a good God who is indeed present with us, and who is even now working out his unseen plans among us.  To become "A Praying Hospital" is no consolation prize, and the temptation (for all us) to think of it that way is another evidence of our illusion of control and sufficiency.  Wouldn't it be better to stop praying and get on with doing something about it?  No.  Not really.  Because I can't, really.

All of this would be bad news, were it not for a Goodness and a Grace that is more solid and more real than all the evil and the darkness that is or that ever will be.  But given the reality that is ours, we will come, we will ask, and we will trust.

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