(Written February 10, 2012 in my journal)
Oh Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit - Dear God - I'm feeling guilty and sad - and defensive too, about what I read in the commentary on Luke about Jesus praying all night before choosing Your disciples, and how You are our example, and we should regularly pray all night....
Defensive especially (period!) ... like - when have I ever had the energy and opportunity to spend a whole night in prayer? (especially when I had kids at home...) - and what about the busiest times of my life, like when the kids were teens in Keremeos and I was raising them much of the time alone, while helping at church, orcharding, tutoring several students, etc etc etc - and yet I "faithfully" (and I really did do it out of devotion - and yes, love - to You, and a total belief that prayer is essential [in a truly positive sense] - every morning, early, for a good hour or two - all those prayers I wrote out and repeated day after day, as well as the new ones I added every day as needs occurred...
And Father, oh Father, what became of them? Yes, I see answers in my childrens' lives for sure - though at the time it only seemed that things got worse and worse! In retrospect, of course, I see that You work through the "worse and worse," but I sure didn't see it at all clearly at the time.
And what about my prayers for the community, and for the churches, and for the teen friends of my kids (so many of whom have already died tragic deaths, or whatever) (thank You that __ seems to be happy ... but oh, Lord - did You plan for him to follow You and be a might preacher? or was that just "my" hopes? or is it yet to come? or ? and what about his little sister who died alone in tragic circumstances? what about __? what about? what about? what about all those prayers I thought You were leading me to pray?)
You do hear our prayers, of course. Right? Don't You? And You answer. Sometimes "yes" - but rarely, it seems to me, in the way we'd do it (thank goodness) - and usually with a "long wait" attached (I can see why some people believe "miracles" ended after the "apostolic age" ... ha! I believe in miracles - and I've seen and experienced some instantaneous ones ... but "waiting" seems to be a lot more common (and, in the end, a lot more comprehensive, including healing/ perfecting in far more ways than the narrow way we were asking for - spiritual, emotional, physical, etc - and often eternal and perfect, when the illness or whatever leads to physical death but at the same time to joyful perfect eternity with You face to face!)
(What kind of "perfecting" could possibly come out of things like my mom's long struggle with dementia? Other than the amazing joy she must have experienced coming out into the brightness and perfection of Your glory after the long darkness in her progressively failing body and mind? Well, that in itself is something truly amazing and glorious, isn't it? And then what about how it has drawn others - like me - closer to You through the struggle? But what about those who "turned away from her" because they "couldn't handle it"?)
(Yes, I know... I'll never know all that You have been doing behind the scenes... the beautiful tapestry You've been creating with all the broken and tangled threads of our lives ... the old hurts and pains in others' lives that You've been heaing through that time/ process, that I'll never know about, that I could never imagine... even the changes in me - I trust - that I can't see!) (Remember The Shack!)
Wow, prayer is so much deeper - and necessary - than we can imagine!
And no, I wouldn't have "made it through" those Keremeos years without it - without that focused time early every morning.
And surely that same thing applies to me right now, right here, with You :-)
I do suspect that "all night in prayer" doesn't necessarily mean, for every person, a set time frame in the night-time hours. I suspect it's more about seeking You, drawing to You, casting my cares and decisions and questions upon You, in whatever times and places - moment by moment - in whatever situations, You bring into our individual lives.
I suspect, too, that "fasting" and other "disciplines" are different for different ones of Your children ... I suspect it may even be dangerous to say "my way is the right way" or even that the superficial details of your life on earth, Jesus, are the exact ways we should follow - it's much more complex that simple rules and rituals, isn't it? Much more individually (and corporately!) relational!
Even how Your church should be "set up." It really isn't about the exact contents/ order/ liturgy/ etc of each gathering, but about the family relationship that is focused on and wrapped up in You, Lord!