Most people think of prayer primarily as a (frequently formal) conversation in which we appeal to God for particular blessings—followed by his response with a “yes,” “no,” or “not yet.” The formulation might look like this: Human Petition = Divine Response.
While prayer truly is a conversation with our Creator . . . this simplistic view is incomplete. In focusing on the answer, it misses out on the holy awe of being in the presence of God itself. C.S. Lewis grasps this precious truth. “In prayer God shows Himself to us.”
I was chatting with my grandson the other day. He’s home on leave from his assignment at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. Andrew was describing how his Christian lifestyle has isolated him from many of his fellow airmen. They sometimes ridicule him for his chastity and can’t fathom his choice not to squander his time at the club.
But Andrew also shared with me how the ostracism has positively impacted his spiritual life. He’s discovered deep joy in spending time alone with the Lord. He’s active in church worship too, of course, but he also enjoys his time alone. And that is a spiritual epiphany for a gregarious young man who is intensely social by nature.
He shared with me this verse from a song by a contemporary Christian band we both enjoy:
“Loneliness and solitude are two things not to get confused ’cause I spend my solitude with You.” (Reliant K, Lyrics from “Therapy”)
I hear in these words an echo of Lewis’ insight. As Christians, we are never alone. And sometimes in “solitude” we experience the most amazing intimacy a human being can ever know.
True . . . God is ever with us. As Saint John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, said: “Quietude in solitude is no small teacher of virtue.”