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Sizing up Big Prayers

September 11th – I can’t draw a deep breath on my run this morning. Even the air is sullen with the anniversary of the day. I leave the house at 9:12am in a salute to its memory. Their memory. And the conversation – with God – begins.

Please, send peace. Please, don’t ever let this happen again. Please, be with those who lost someone on this day twelve years ago. Big prayers. Offered up to the universe. What good do these do for those grieving, missing, remembering? For those who have a hole they can never fill?

September 12th – Life continues for the rest of us. Oddly, I am dashing those “big prayers.” Not completely. I am sure they will return at the right time. But they are not helpful for me. In fact, I feel a bit deceptive in them. Like, I am turning over to God what really should be my responsibility. “You just go take care of those people so I can be about my business.”

Don’t get me wrong. Acknowledging the majesty of God and His sovereignty in the universe is critical. In fact, it’s imperative. Just difficult … especially…on September 11th. Can we believe that an all-powerful, all-knowing God let that happen? We don’t have to wrestle with that if we don’t get too close to it. Don’t let Him get too close to us. If we just pray big prayers.

But what about the specifics? Does God gloss over those in favor of His “all encompassing plan for mankind?” Because if He does, why would He care about me? in the sea of a humanity? I believe He does. I believe He loves me completely. In fact, when he looks at me, I am all He sees. And the same for you. We are huge in His eyes. Magnified. Close.

That means, He watched those people fall, up close. He watched those towers crumble, up close. He watched those terrorists board, up close. And did not stop it. Somehow, God’s will allowed September 11th. And God saw it more clearly than any of us.

“I see you. You there, with the gray t-shirt and Adidas shorts.” He says. “Yes, you. Look at me. Hear me. I love you.”

What would be beyond hope in that moment?

Can we stop now?

A wonderful woman I know sent a request to our prayer chain: she was being admitted to the hospital with an irregular EKG. Oh, my. I must pray. Five days later I see pictures on her Facebook page of wedding cake and a wonderful celebration. Guess I can stop praying now. I am guessing it was a false alarm and can see what might have disrupted the heart rhythm, but still…

Why do we alert God when we are in need but not celebrate with God when we are released from need? Over and over He satisfies our requests and we move on, forgetting to say thank you.

We get distracted, of course. I am totally guilty. I tell the group to get in plank position, start my watch shouting go, then wander about the group correcting form and speaking encouragement – totally forgetting the time until some poor diligent child, looks up at me red-faced and arms shaking and pleads, “Can we stop now?”

And I sheepishly shout, “stop!” Then I wonder just how long that 20 second plank actually went on.

We humans are a distractable bunch. Getting caught up in the good we are doing and the difference we are making, totally forgetting the whom of the good and the difference.

Oh, a few extra planking seconds won’t hurt them, right? Just like those few extra prayers won’t hurt her, right? In fact, God being God would probably just apply them to the new situation without telling us.

But I need the reminder that prayers go both ways, just like plank and rest. It’s in the rhythm of the start and stop, that we stay on course. The ask, then listen. The effort, then rest.

When I finally remembered to shout REST! to those 12 year old plankers I do think I heard one say, “Thank God!” I would do well to pay better attention to them and to the time.

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