Fumbly, Stumbly, Wooly-headed, Thick-tongued Prayers

Prayer is a massive, wonderful, frightening thing. God is there and wants to hear from us and to help us. Hard for a low-down no-good sinner to accept. Massively hard. But it’s the Truth. He has given me This Day.

So saith The Fat Guy, Scott Chaffin.

I’ve been distantly acquainted with Scott for many years, more or less since the dawn of the Blogosphere. I’ve read his blog off and on, and every so often he’s left a comment on mine, reminding me that he’s still around. He’s always written about food, music, sports, and life in general with a pleasing mixture of earthy gusto and a refusal to take himself seriously.

For the past while he’s been dealing with cancer and chemo, and dealing with both as best he can. And not coincidentally, today he’s talking about the Lord’s Prayer, the “Swiss Army Knife of Prayers”, and what he said struck me hard.

Boots Yesterday I started reposting my series on the Interior Life, which is to say the life of prayer. Christian discipleship is all about having a living relationship with Jesus, and prayer is the medium of that relationship. To live with Christ, you need to pray. And if you don’t generally pray, how do you start?

Scott suggests that if all you can do is pray the Lord’s Prayer, do that. It’s how Jesus taught his disciples to pray, and so it’s the best starting point. In doing so you open yourself to the Father and ask for what you really need, using the words Jesus gave us.

But second, he reminds me of a reality that’s probably more widespread than I could have guessed. Scott says of his own prayers,

My own fumbly, stumbly, wooly-headed, thick-tongued prayers are an embarrassment to me, though I understand they shouldn’t be. But they still offend me. I have fretted for years over my entreaties to the Lord.

I wonder how many others have had a similar experience. As Scott notes, the problem isn’t with his prayers, but with his embarrassment—but how to get past that?

Then, after catching the cancer, and musing about the unsuitability of my personal prayers and the swiss cheese nature of chemo-brain, Francis Poretto advised me to start with the Lord’s Prayer, and if that’s as far as I got, well, it would do the trick. As it happens, it opened up my heart & my head to more prayer. No less fumbly, stumbly, wooly-headed and thick-tongued, but I ceased caring (mostly.)

The hard part of a conversation with someone you don’t know, at least for us introverts, isn’t continuing it; it’s getting started at all. And maybe we’re all introverts when it comes to the Father. But it turns out that he’s told us how to get started.

Anyway, go read the whole thing; and click through to the post Scott links to. It’s good, too.

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