Have you ever been with someone in need, someone in a desperate place? Have you held their hand while her shaking body wept? Have you awkwardly stood by while he says, “I don’t know what to do.” Have you ever taken that great leap of faith to say, “Can I pray for you?” If that’s not difficult enough . . . what are you supposed to say exactly?
Several weeks ago in worship I talked about the five steps of prayer: Who is God, what has God done, what are you asking, why are you asking, and bring it home with a great Amen. So, a prayer might go something like this:
Gracious God (step one)
Who knows what we need before we ask (step two)
Pour out your Holy Spirit (step three)
So we will know for what to ask (step four)
Amen (step five)
But there’s more than one way to approach God in prayer. Earlier this week I ran across an article by a mentor of mine, Rev Sam Wells, in which he details three different ways to pray. The first, he said, is Resurrection. Resurrection prayer is a prayer calling for a miracle. It is prayer of faithful risk. We look to the heavens with tightened fist and say, “Sweet Jesus, if you’re alive, make your presence known!”
A second way to pray is Incarnation. It’s a prayer of presence. It is, perhaps, more silent than a prayer of Resurrection. It is a prayer which recognizes that, yes, Jesus was raised, but that it happened through brokenness. Through Christ God shares our pain and our frailty. So we pray acknowledging that God suffers with us.
A third way is Transfiguration. Rev Wells writes, “God, in your son’s transfiguration we see a whole reality within and beneath and beyond what we thought we understood; in their times of bewilderment and confusion, show my friend and her father your glory, that they may find a deeper truth to their life than they ever knew, make firmer friends than they ever had, discover reasons for living beyond what they’d ever imagined, and be folded into your grace like never before.” In other words, it is a prayer that, in whatever circumstance, asks God to reshape our reality, to give us new and right spirit to trust that even in the midst of suffering and hardship, Truth can still be experienced and shared.
Maybe you need a prayer of Resurrection, a prayer which reveals God’s miraculous rule breaking. Maybe you need to offer a prayer of Incarnation, showing someone that Christ is present in the midst of suffering through the work of the church and friends. Maybe you need to sit and listen for a prayer of Transfiguration, the kind of prayer which takes time and patience and potentially years of earnest searching. Whatever the case . . . pray. Pray boldly. Share a prayer with someone. Ask someone to pray for you and thank them when they fumble through the awkwardness. Sit and listen to the prayer God is whispering to you through your children or the birds of the air or the lilies of the field. Just . . . pray.