Recently one of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning, passed away. His writing has always struck me for its honesty and depth. He was a man of tremendous faith and realistic about the difficulties of living for Christ in this world. I am drawn towards prayers such as his below, even though they scare me. Jesus seemed to bump heads a lot with those that used religion as a shield. Scary prayers like this one pretty much ask God to deal with us face to face, no shield, no hiding. I’m intimidated by the idea of being face to face with a Holy God, but my heart wants that more than anything. With that desire burning in my heart, I pray:
“May all your expectations be frustrated, may all your plans be thwarted, may all your desires be withered into nothingness, that you might experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and then sing and dance in the love of God who is Father, Son, and Spirit… and today on planet earth may you experience the wonder and beauty of yourself as Abba’s Child, the temple of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.”
Why in the world would we pray that our expectations and plans not work out in the way we would hope? Too often we work out our life without consulting God and then end up questioning God’s care for us when everything we participate in isn’t blessed. In praying a crazy prayer like Brennan’s we begin to move our hearts to a place that recognizes that being a child of God is a greater gift than a life where every situation runs smoothly, or where every outcome works to our benefit.
Perhaps thinking that life should always work out to our benefit is crazier than actually praying that it won’t. We know that life doesn’t always work out as we would plan so why do we get so ticked when it doesn’t? I could tell you story after story of how things haven’t worked out as I expected, how my plans were seriously frustrated, and after the dust settled it turned out for the best.
Brennan’s prayer isn’t all that different from praying, “Your kingdom come, your will be done...” However when we lift up Brennan’s prayer it is harder to deny the daring truth behind the words. His prayer also recognized that if we can let go of the hubris that expects life will always work to our immediate liking we are more able to embrace the trust that can only come by being child-like in our faith. As this prayer seeks, such trust in God’s love can lead to a joy much deeper than the shallow contentment that comes from getting our own way.
I find myself at a time of significant transition, that I neither expected or planned. I pray that I would find joy in trusting God is leading the way. Will you look for such joy in being led? Led in the wisdom that is beyond our. Led as a child whose parent is excited to take her on a trip with a surprise destination. Instead of worrying about not being in control, can we search for the joy found in taking God’s hand in the moment and finding a love that cares enough about our well being to not always give us our way?