Sometimes God moves loudly, as if spinning to another place like ball lightning. God is, oddly, personal; this God knows. Sometimes en route, dazzlingly or dimly, he shows an edge of himself to souls who seek him, and the people who bears those souls, marveling, know it, and see the skies carousing around them, and watch cells stream and multiply in green leaves. He does not give as the world gives; he leads invisibly over many years, or he wallops for thirty seconds at a time. He may touch a mind, too, making a loud sound, or a mind may feel the rim of his mind as he nears.
“To entreat and to intercede is to transform situations powerfully. God participates in bad conditions here by including them in his being and ultimately overcoming them. True prayer surrenders to God; that willing surrender itself changes the situation a jot or two by adding power which God can use. Since God works in and through existing conditions, I take this to mean that when the situation is close, when your friend might die or might live, then your prayer’s surrender can add enough power – mechanism unknown – to tilt the balance. . . . God’s activity is by no means interference, but instead divine creativity – the ongoing creation of life with all its greatness and danger. I don’t know. I don’t know beans about God.”
– Annie Dillard, For the Time Being
Really interesting and compelling commentary on prayer and the power of God. Church leaders from many denominations can agree generally on the transforming powers of prayer.
Ms. Dillard says she doesn’t know beans about God. And this comes close to the end of her book, almost 200 pages of philosophizing and observing and sincere searching. She doesn’t know beans.
I don’t know beans.
But, we probably know more than we think we know. And God always gives us credit for what we know.
At a regional conference in the Marriott Center on Sunday, one of the speakers, Julie B. Beck, suggested that we’re doing better than we think we are, but we could also be doing better than we really are.
I bet the “mechanism unknown” involves faith, if it’s not faith itself.
We pray when we want perspective. We pray when we want God’s help.
I needed both last night after talking on the phone with someone.
Paradoxically, surrendering myself isn’t the same as giving up. It’s anti-quitting.
I know I could be doing better.
I just don’t know how I’m doing.