Monday, February 23, 2009

Can I pray without words?

I've been working on Eccliesiaties the last couple weeks.  This is the first time I've gone through it in a while and, again, I want to thank the people of the Bible Postcast for bringing me back to this book of great wisdom.  Today I'm awed by the wisdom of the first few verses of Chapter 5.  We forget about being silent before the Lord and I'm not sure we know how to do it well, neither in prayer or in worship.  Too often it becomes a way of seperating us from the rest of the community of God.  You know those times that a worship leader will say, "Close your eyes and imagine that it is just you and God here in this room."  I despise that.  I don't come to worship with a community in order to pretend that the community is not there.

No matter how we are to worship and pray in silence, Solomon reminds us that we are better to approach the throne silently.

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
 Clearly my dear brothers and sisters of evangelical practices don't come to listen but to speak.  Neither in worship or in prayer.  How many times have I been in a prayer group that spent 30 minutes talking about all the hopes, fears and wishes of the people and friends of people in the room, then after talking about those things everyone closes their eyes and in a "prayerful attitude" talk about those things again?  The intention is good, a desire to see God's hand moving among themselves and those that they mention.  Unfortunately, the desires of fools is also pure.  It is the fool's knowledge of reality that is lacking.

I don't know what are corporate prayer times and worship would look like if we come together to listen, but I know that I am going to make an attempt to do so.  For the next 4 weeks, in prayer times and in worship, I'm going to put my energy, my mind to listening.  Not to others, but to God.  Not to the god in my own head, but to God as he works among the people of my church.

I wonder if you will join me?  Does this make you uncomfortable?  Does it seem too mystical? It does to me in a way, but I'm not sure what else to do with this passage.

Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.