I wrote this in class recently while I sat through a tedious lecture that was…fairly unenjoyable. We have an adjunct currently as our normal professor was out for surgery. And God knows, we’re all just praying he recovers quickly so that he can come back. I ask people if they like our class and they give me this wide eyed stare of horror over the tops of their Macs and PCs and other [distracting] note taking devices. I’ve started to just laugh at the reactions. I commiserate as well. But when we sit in the back corner of the library griping over class…well, the commentaries are somewhat more intriguing than a rehearsal of “and OH MY GAW, she is SO, UGH. That’s all I can say, just ERRR” and other frustrated noises. But it provides for some good bonding as I’m the only girl in our happy little study group that comes with a secret handshake and password.
Anyway. The actual thing I wrote which is slightly less amusing and somewhat more thoughtful. But only slightly and somewhat.
Today we prayed before class, as we always do. With Gabrien in the hospital prayer this week has taken on another, more full sort of meaning. As Josh (classmate) pointed out last week, I can do nothing for anyone. I may only pray for them–that God in His grace and mercy may transform their hearts (and that they will be open to the transforming work of the transforming work of the Spirit).
So prayer, then, is a serious business. It’s about change, right? One would rather hope that seminary students are rather decent at praying..or at least we would have rather sincere prayers whether they be simple or elaborate in the making. But today, when my fellow students prayed over class after the reading of Proverbs 30, such was not the case.
We prayed that God would speak to us and open our eyes as we studied methods of interpretation and textual criticism. Of course this is a good thing to pray. But given our abiding dislike of the professor, shouldn’t we have prayed for certain teaching abilities? Or for our attitudes as we consistently reject her teaching in frustration? I mean, if we’re shooting for sincerity in prayer…
Somedays it seems we approach the Father in a rather flippant manner. I mean, parts of the world are falling to pieces and my class prayed that our hearts would be open to the word of God as we learned about words studies or “lexical analysis”? Really?
It felt trite for so many reasons. First, why does it matter in light of everything else that could be prayed for? But it also felt trite to pray so–so earnestly for something so small when we don’t genuinely believe Abba will save our friends, our children, our world. Somedays, I don’t even believe it.
Then, on the drive home I passed a church that I usually respect for their half-way decent signs. But in the dark of Tuesday evening this sign glowed with a rather disappointing message. “Animal Blessing: Thursday 10AM.”
Oh my word.
We’re blessing pets now? What, are we PETA disguised as a church? Don’t get me wrong, I love animals. I dream of the day when I can own an Irish WolfHound. But we’re blessing pets? How do you even do that? I mean, what do you say to bless a pet? “Be blessed with long life in the land that your God is giving to you?” Oh, wait, that’s Aaronic and it’s contingent with honouring your mother and father. Hrmmm.
So we pray these ridiculous things, and we approach God when we need a good grade on an exam or help in focusing because God knows I just can’t say no to Facebook and Gmail and texting on my phone! (mostly no pun intended) But do we really take big things to him? Like where we’re going, where we’re working, who we live with, who we live around, what we do with our money and…and…oh, you know, newborns who are in the hospital on oxygen and the sin of our congregations?
I don’t know. I’m guilty in all those things. I am using this blog to procrastinate on a paper that I”ll probably ask for a good grade on the night before it’s due when I’m pulling an all-nighter. But I’m also learning this thing called prayer. I’m learning that if I trust God for good grades, and if I think he’s concerned with such a ridiculous thing, maybe he cares about the lost and the broken and my next door neighbors. And maybe I should learn some respect for the God of the universe and not treat him like a sugar daddy in the sky.