Perhaps I haven’t covered this before. I can’t remember. And while having the intention to thumb through past writings, I tend to get distracted by other concerns. (This is known in the English major circle as foreshadowing.)
But even if I’ve covered it, I’m fairly sure I haven’t written this.
(If I have, then here you have it again.)
One of the most incomprehensible things about God, I have found, is his simplicity. We imagine that the “rules” of God are so complex and vast that just witnessing one would overwhelm us. Perhaps even to death.
We equate God with infinity. And with all those “omni’s.”
But the more I have studied God, the more I have come to understand that it is, in general, a study in reduction. Of taking a lot away. It’s we, the humans, who complicate things. Almost to the point of making things unworkable.
Imagine a rod on which there are three gears. Each gear is missing exactly one tooth.
Then, spend your time spinning the gears at the same time. Your goal is to get those gaps to line up when the rotations cease.
And a prayer doesn’t “work” until the gears line up.
That’s simple, don’t you think?
The problem is (or are) the gears.
They have to line up.
But they don’t relate to each other in just any way. They all function in their own unique way. And they interrelate with one another in distinct ways. So A relates to B in a way that is different from the way B relates to C.
Sure it is.
Gear Number One:
God. But of course. The creator. Who else can answer a prayer? Redirect the course of the river of your life? The key to knowing God in terms of prayer is accepting that he is always there. He is always available with a, “yes.”
Which could be a problem, too. Because what you are praying for might not be the best thing in the world for you.
But, “yes,” it is.
Gear Number Two:
Time. Here’s the real snag. The branches on the floor of the forest that you don’t see and cause you to fall on your face.
And here is where you can find as much complexity as your imagination will allow you.
I have tried studying the many dimensions of time, but just trying to focus on it brings me to appreciate how necessary it is to clear the cobwebs from the pipes under the bathroom sink. Right now.
Time, you see, can seem as though it’s only concerned with marching forward, ever steady and reliable; but time can also fall off cliffs. It can disappear altogether. It can open doors, and slam your fingers in its windows.
I remember from when I was studying time that I had managed to study five expressions of it. Nada was one of the forms. And I remember hearing someone describe it perfectly. Except I don’t even remember what that was all about these days.
Time is not one of the notebooks I created.
And time has achieved the disappearance of my understanding of it.
So, in terms of prayer, you are on your own in your relationship with time.
It generally has to come to a, “yes,” as an answer to the question, Is this the time for this prayer to be answered?
You would think, really, that God was in charge of everything.
There’s God. And there’s time.
You can pray for an apple tree in your back yard so that you can make apple tarts, and God can create the seed. But it’s time that will control the fruition (get it?) of the prayer.
Except when it doesn’t.
Remember, my definition of a miracle is: A stepping out of time in order to ensure an outcome.
That’s right. A stepping out of time.
I’m here. Time’s over there.
It lets God come through to you without all this, Is it the right time? business. It simplifies the process down to just you and God.
A miracle is that which allows God to shine. The Yes-Man Cometh. As it were.
Gear Number Three:
And you thought time was bad.
It’s not the multifaceted nature that time has that complicates man.
It’s our fickleness. Our irresolution.
Here we go, off to plant our apple tree. Oh wait, perhaps I’d better take the kids to get the ice cream cones I promised them yesterday. Now there’s something that can’t wait.
Between man and time, it’s a wonder that any prayers are ever accomplished.
Direction, or staying on track, is not one of man’s strongest character traits.
We never even see on a list of our best qualities, do we?
Question: When you begin a task, do you work straight through until it is finished? Answer: Oh look, a blue jay.
So, in truth, once you recognize what it takes to get the three gears to line up, all of them saying, “yes,” at the same time, you will understand that the biggest thing we need in prayer is patience. And commitment to spinning the gears.
I hope this proves to you how simple God really is.
Because compared with time and man, he’s a breeze.