Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Prayers of the Saints

Prayers are intangible; they can't be held in my hand. If I'm honest with myself, I fill my day with tangible things because it is nice to have something solid to point to at the end of the day. I did this. It's difficult for me to pray for a stranger and then never hear if my prayers were answered. And when I pray to myself, it can sometimes feel analogous to that question thrown around in college dorms: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Without realizing it, as I default to my spiritually sleepy state, I act as though prayer doesn't matter, or affect matter, or influence matters even though I would say differently.

But as I hear about perfect strangers in New Zealand, Singapore, and Canada, and our friends spread across North America, and the many children (!!) who are praying for us and I connect the presence of those prayers with Sylvie's fantastic progress despite her diagnosis, and the fact that I am not daily paralyzed by fear when there is something very real to fear, and that Shawn and I have genuinely enjoyed each other lately despite stress that has eaten away at our relationship before, all of this has confronted my lazy view of prayer.

And then Someone reminded me that our prayers actually do take on form. Scripture speaks of God's throne room where there are "golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people." The simple words we speak in prayer to God enter the spiritual world as smoke, swirling and billowing in the very presence of God.

Did you just see that?

Your prayers take on form.

But wait. It gets better.

As my pastor explained, "'Heaven' is not in outer space; it's the deeper reality, where God dwells in His fullness, all around us, even now."

Prayers not only show up in God's presence, but also there are residual effects for us. I think all this smoke and aroma, at times, can't be contained. Inevitably, it seeps through the veil separating the unseen spiritual reality with our seen physical reality. As you have been praying for us, the overflow in God's throne room--that exists in a deeper reality all around us--has infiltrated our little corner of this physical world. The incense has been infusing our house. At times the smoke is so thick we are spiritually lifted and the aroma of it follows us as we go about our day in and outside the house. I am certain this is true because people will say I am 'so brave' and 'exhibiting such strength' and I know it has not been by my own merit that this is true. I am a very fearful, very timid person by nature. Your prayers are causing something supernatural to occur.

To those of you who have been praying: do you see what you are doing? Not only are you filling the throne room with a heady aroma, you are spreading it in a very dark, very broken world. Your heartfelt words, as it pertains to us, are lifting a family and carrying us into the presence of God when we could very easily be ensnared by fear and worry and snap at each other, bringing only more brokenness into this world. Your very words, as you circle the globe, are circling our house, and circling Sylvie's heart.

Circling her heart. You are surely touching mine. My gratitude can't be contained in the phrase 'Thank you.'

So. Please. Tell me how I can pray for you. I don't care how big or small the request.

I think it's the best I can do for you.

And how can I withhold that when you've given your best to us?

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