Lent: Day Fifteen

It is Friday evening and I have been given a one day extension on my conference presentation. I changed my approach at the last minute and had to redo almost everything I was doing. One thing that made putting this session together difficult is that I don’t have anyone to bounce my ideas off of. There just aren’t very many people who work in my presentation area of RoboHelp indexing and those that do aren’t focused on the whole process. They are mostly indexers who are just concerned how to efficiently enter their entries into the program to get the indexing portion of the work done. They are not people trying to design a path through all of the possible input and output variables so they can present a methodology that others can adopt, along with tricks and tips to make the job easier.

As I mentioned yesterday, I get my best insights from talking, so this lack of someone to dialog with has been a real constraint on creating this presentation. I have taken to talking to myself, to making a presentation on my whiteboard to an empty room. That helps somewhat.

With that talking to an empty room in mind, I had this insight about prayer today. In many ways, private prayer is like my talking to an empty room. Now don’t get excited, I am not saying God is not there listening to my prayers, but he doesn’t usually answer me when I pray. The result is that when I pray it is a lot like my making that presentation on the white board to an empty room. It doesn’t do anything for the room, but it helps me greatly, for without the concretizing of my thoughts into words I would not be able to interact with them, to be changed by what they show me.

It has long been argued that prayer is not for God (he does not need our prayers), but that our prayers are for us. C.S. Lewis, in the movie Shadowlands, argues that during the fight against the cancer that took his wife’s life he prayed not to change God, but to allow God to change him. Part of that change comes from us articulating our innermost yearnings into words, out in the light of day, which allows us to interact with them, not just feel them.

In the past I have mostly prayed silently, articulating my prayers mostly in my head. I am now going to change that to praying out loud, even to the point of actually writing down the high points of my prayers so I can see them clothed in real substance in front of me. I am hoping that God will use this new transparency, like C. S. Lewis postulated, to change me. You cannot hide from your own prayers when you speak them out loud and write them down. Giving them such discrete substance forces you to interact with them in a way that silent prayer does not.

I continue to marvel how God uses my everyday life, even insights from my profession, to teach me what I believe to be important spiritual lessons.

Remember me in your prayers and if you want me to remember you in mine, let me know.

Grace and peace to your day.