Lost and Found

For the past few days Quietnun and I have been playing an extended game of lost and found. There are over a hundred boxes of books sitting in the calefactory, waiting to be unpacked; and among them a few boxes which should never have got there because they contain habits, cooking utensils and the like. Accordingly, our methodical (sic) unpacking arrangements are regularly upset as we go in search of whatever is needed at the moment. Usually, we find something else we had been looking for, but in the wrong place.

I suppose that is a paradigm of life for many of us. As St Augustine said (several times), we look outside for what we must find within, or we look in the wrong place or the wrong way. Quite often we receive requests for prayer which make me wonder what the asker thinks prayer is or does. For example, ‘Pray that I receive A grades in all my exams. Thanks.’ is a fairly common one at present. I have no doubt that God is interested in every aspect of our lives, but I don’t think he is going to make up for an absence of coursework or revision. Prayer is not magic: it is relationship. So, when we pray about exam results, we are, as it were, expressing to God our concern about our future, much as we might express our concern to an earthly parent. It is good to express our concerns to God, but there is something more.

Most of us are a bit lost. We may not even know our need of God or be prepared to acknowledge it fully. We are waiting to be found by him, only we are reluctant to admit it. Our prayer is very often more of a barrier to God than an invitation to him to enter our lives β€” we use so many words, fill our prayer-time with so many requests, that we don’t have enough space to let God speak and be heard. Sometimes doing nothing is the hardest thing of all. Anyone who has had the experience of sitting by the bedside of a dying person, especially a much-loved dying person, will know that a time comes when the words have all been said, there is only the waiting, almost without hope. Everything is turned over to God, silently, even blankly.

I’m not suggesting that such abandonment to the will of God is the only kind of prayer, but I do think it is one that many of us need to practise more. We are half-way there if we know we are lost. We can trust God to find us, no matter how many false-starts and wrong-turns we make, however boxed-in we may feel. Maybe this is something we could try this week-end, the prayer of abandonment and trust?


10 thoughts on “Lost and Found”

  1. Yes it is so hard to do nothing and to find the ability to be still. The inner clamour is persistent and of far greater effect than what is going on externally (I find anyway).
    I have spent some time this week trying to find that stillness and to hear and know God at my deepest centre.
    It was a blessed time.

  2. have just today heard about The Quiet Garden – trust? charity? Anyway, Worth Abbey is a member and has one. If you can keep the rabbits out of your garden maybe you can make one too?

  3. Having just acquired a shiny new smart-phone, I am viewing the mobile version of the blog for the first time. Wow! I think version might be better than the other! πŸ™‚

    Anyway, I’ve always found that prayers along the lines of “please give me the focus to get through this exam – oh and pretty please let it

  4. Okay, I found a snag. When trying to go back and edit on a smart phone, it’s really easy to accidently hit the publish button instead. Continuing where I left off…

    Prayers to the effect of “please give me the focus to get through the exam”, even if followed up by the inevitable “oh and please let it go okay too, and let me get an A”, are much more effective for inducing a calm, exam-ready state of mind. Now whether this is genuine divine intervention, the peace-bringing effect of prayer, or simply that the process of prayer helps me keep things in perspective I couldn’t possibly speculate. Either way, it seems to work for me.

  5. My beloved grandparents died 99 days apart in 2009. I remember quite vividly the feeling of sitting next to them, having accepted that this was God’s will to take them, and knowing that there was nothing left to say and that none of my words or pleadings would change God’s mind… plus I didn’t want them to suffer any more.

    But within that, I did feel a great sense of peace. I felt like I was sitting in the snow but covered by a warm blanket, if that makes any sense. God’s presence felt so very real then.

    Still trying to find a way back to that place of peace. Since I am a naturally bouncy, probably ADHD individual, being calm, letting go of what I want and abandoning myself to God’s will is very difficult!

  6. Thank you for all your comments. We have received a little clutch of the ‘Pray I get A grades, thanks’ requests this morning. I am glad that the little word ‘thanks’ was appended, but I still have a few reservations about what people think they are doing when they send us such requests. (And in case anyone is interested, we do not ask God to award people specific grades: He knows His business better than we do!)

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