From the chair:
“I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”
I must confess, I sometimes get annoyed with prayer requests. The side of it I’m at peace with is the side of my that gets annoyed with “prayer requests” that aren’t really related to prayer (certainly not “striving together in prayer”) but rather are just excuses to say things. I don’t mind listening to people; I just don’t like calling it a prayer request when we’re focused on ourselves and not God’s purposes, God’s power, God.
Yet, the other side of it, the more problematic side of my own annoyance, is that I’m often the one focused merely on myself and not on God. I get annoyed with the people who genuinely are striving in prayer and asking me to join them before God. I think it’s because my faith in myself is too big–I spend a lot more time figuring out how I’m going to accomplish my own plans than asking God to work out his own will. I think it’s also because my faith in God is too small, and each day I forget the power and joy and necessity of prayer.
With all that in mind, it’s probably best to beat back all the annoyance. I don’t know who is really talking about prayer and who isn’t. I don’t know who prays and who doesn’t. I don’t know people’s motives. I do know that when people ask for prayer, they are revealing some need or desire or something off in their lives, and I do know that God is the one who can address those things.
The apostle Paul was one of those people who was not afraid to ask for prayer; he was also one of those people who prayed. God did great things through him, in fact, through his prayers. It’s probably too late for me to learn Mandarin or how to be a surgeon or complex math…but it’s not too late for me to learn to strive in prayer and to strive together with sisters and brothers in Christ.
From the desk:
“For my part, it has struck me that I might have seemed a bit like a whale that leaps to the surface of the water disturbing it momentarily with a tiny jet of spray, and lets it be believed, or pretends to believe, or want to believe, or himself does in fact indeed believe, that down in the depths where no one sees him any more, where he is no longer witnessed nor controlled by anyone, he follows a more profound, coherent and reasoned trajectory.”
-Michael Foucault, “Two Lectures” in Michael Kelly, Critique and Power, p.18
I appreciate Foucault’s honesty here, especially as I turn to writing for the next few weeks and share his concern. The fact that he can express this concern so much more elegantly should perhaps concern me, but I persist in hope.
“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.