Something I've prayed this week:
Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past... (From The Book of Common Prayer)
I can be a ridiculously private person. This can irritate my wife quite a bit, and for good reason, because it often unintentionally leads to me neglecting to share significant things with her. With her, it's unintentional, as I just get wrapped up in things going on inside my head and some of them never make it out. But with other people, sometimes it's a bit more intentional. I'm not the easiest person in the world to get to know, and I usually have no problem with that.
But once in a while, I get surprised by how far I swing in the other direction before realizing what it is that I've done. It might be in conversation with someone when I realize I've just given information that they really would have been better off not knowing. The instances of having the feeling of having said too much are really rare for me, but they do happen, and I can't stand it when they do.
So as I'm nearing the end of the third week of this experiment, I caught myself wondering if writing about these things could turn out to be an example of when I've said more than I should have. The passage from Jesus's Sermon on the Mount came to mind as something that, in a way, I happen to be intentionally not doing throughout this year.
And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:5-6, ESV)
I have yet to go pray in a synagogue or on a street corner, but perhaps a blog is one of our 21st century equivalents to them. While my conscience is clear about my motivation for writing these posts, I can see the irony: I'm attempting to do what the Bible says by finding ways to pray without ceasing. Then I come really close to doing something the Bible forbids by writing about those attempts here in a public way.
Though if someone really wanted to lay the charges from the passage above against me in this project, I've concluded that I'm on pretty safe ground for a couple of reasons:
First, Jesus wasn't giving laws for us to follow in this passage. There are plenty of times that I pray other places than my room, or without the door closed, and I'm sure that God is fine with it. In the same way, one can easily think of ways to pray as a hypocrite that have nothing to do with being in a synagogue or on a street corner. Rather than laying down laws, he was pointing to our motivation. Do we pray for our Father, or so that people can see us, congratulate us, and think of us as a prayerful person?
And there's the rub: Have I written Live Prayerfully, and am I writing these blog posts because I want people to think of me in a certain way? If that's the case, I need even more these words that I've been praying every day: Lord, have mercy! I think that Live Prayerfully is written in such a way that folks will read it and realize that while I've attempted these things for a while, I'm far from any kind of a guru. And as for this year of blog posts- I'll combat the charge of hypocrite by being sure to post something somewhat humiliating now and then. Such as this:
If you would have been watching me during my time of praying without words yesterday, you would have been doing so for a long time. I was sitting with my daughter as she laid down for her afternoon nap. During midday prayer, when I came to the opportunity to pray without words... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. We both woke up about an hour and a half later.
Yes, I am available to teach others how to do as I do...
[This is the 7th post from A Year of Living Prayerfully.]