“I only pray, when I ain’t got a prayer” from a song titled “Need a Favor” performed by country singer Jelly Roll (don’t ask me why he chose the name) caught my attention and gave me reason to consider what it might mean.
My first reaction is that it indicates desperation, an unfilled need. Secondly, prayer is not a daily aspect of life and thirdly, there seemed to be a knowledge of the Divine Presence but not a relationship that offers comfort for the struggles of life.
Often we use the phrase “season of prayer” meaning we take time to pray more specifically or intently for a particular need or situation that we or someone we know may be facing. However, when we wish to go deeper, there can be a sense of being unsure with a Presence that we know is there but is shrouded in mystery.
There is mystery to be sure, but there is also a clear path upon which we can embark that winds through times of desperation, loneliness and life’s distresses. When we travel this path, the path of prayer, we begin to experience the Presence of God in a more natural setting. Prayer becomes an environment offering us gateways of awareness into the very throne room of God.
God is revealed in two major ways. The written scriptures we call the Bible and the natural scriptures we call creation. Both have the potential to help us live in a “Season of Prayer” daily. In the penned scriptures, especially the Psalms, there are several references to the path of prayer. In Psalm 32:8: The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Rather than waiting until “we ain’t got a prayer” perhaps traveling on the path the LORD has established for us could lead to daily revelations that we can ponder and result in a more delightful and peaceful life.
There are several promises in this verse that indicate trustworthiness as we embark on the path. God guarantees to guide us. This is very comforting since we need a guide we can trust. As we deliberate what the path may look like, the spirit of the God of the universe is there revealing our every step! We are bombarded with messages that want us to go this way or that way with the “promise” of fulfillment and happiness. Yet God assures us that his path is best. Other ways may seem better but the Lord chooses the best. Life has its share of hazards and detours and uncertainties. As we encounter these unexpected episodes, we have the all-knowing advisor watching and helping.
There is also comfort in God’s creation. Life is everywhere and the creator guides us by means of the beauty and complexity around us and within us. There is rhythm in this universe in which we dwell. The sun rises and sets every 24 hours as the earth rotates on its axis. The earth also revolves around the sun in 365 days and that time period is divided into four approximately equal increments we refer to as the seasons. In other words, creation has a predictable cyclical component. Spring is indicative of renewal and growth. As Spring yields to summer we see the new growth reveal beautiful arrays of color that initiate times of relaxation and refreshment. Autumn is a time of harvest and gathering. We contemplate the advice and guidance God provides each day and are grateful for the bounty. Finally winter is that season of rest and renewal and anticipation of what may be next on our path of life. When we are synchronized with the universal rhythm God has provided, we are in essence praying.
In Thomas Merton’s book Thoughts in Solitude he says this: “Let me seek, then, the gift of silence, and poverty, and solitude, where everything I touch is turned into prayer; where the sky is my prayer, the birds are my prayer, the wind in the trees is my prayer, for God is in all.”
So can we really say “we ain’t got a Prayer”?