Praying with Positive Regard

I was in my hot tub this morning praying.  I was experiencing lots of emotions; however, the predominant feeling was scared. I was aware of so many different things I was afraid of. First, my long time client at the Center for Christian Life Enrichment who is in the final stages of prostate cancer came to mind.  He is valiantly battling to live one day at a time. I also thought about my son who is individuating and living his life as an adventure. His most recent daring episode involves traveling by land from the southern tip of South America to California. Finally, my wife, Sue, was on my heart.  She is battling through challenging side effects associated with this rigorous 12 week detoxification process she has introduced us both to. (I might add, I may have been foolish when I decided to join her in this self imposed food famine. At the moment, I think I would rather be facing the dangers of backpacking through Central America than exorcising my toxins!)

As I was praying for Sue and the others, I suddenly noticed that there was a degree of desperation in my prayers. I was pleading and begging God for his support. I realized may prayers were full of drama and doubt. It was as if I was putting on a show for God, acting as if I needed to exaggerate and be overly dramatic in order to solicit his support. In an instant, I became aware of myself and how I was being with God while I was praying. At CLE, we would say I was growing in consciousness. This was a very meaningful moment for me in my relationship with God and in my relationship with myself.

I am becoming increasingly aware of how uncomfortable I am being–being with myself, with others, and with God. In the same way I use food to numb myself from what I am feeling and experiencing in the moment, I can see how I have used praying to do the same thing. I have a conversation with God, yet I am distracted and unaware of what I am feeling and thinking in the moment. It is like trying to have a meaningful conversation while watching TV. My prayers become like mindless chanting. They are actually distracting me from what I am doing and numbing me from what I am truly feeling and thinking in the moment.

This morning in that instant of insight, it was like I was witnessing the burning bush with Moses.  I had a moment of awareness. I suddenly realized I was praying for Sue as if she was a victim and asking God to rescue her.  I was lobbying for a divine bailout. I was not being respectful of Sue nor holding her in positive regard. I was not picturing Sue as being whole and complete, made in the image of God, capable of navigating her life. I was seeing her as weak, pitiful, and incapable of facing the challenges before her on the journey of transformation into her most Christ-like self.

I felt free. I no longer needed to hold Sue as a victim. I was not responsible for Sue. I did not need to manipulate God for divine aid. I felt hope. I knew Sue was strong, steadfast, capable, determined, and courageous. She was in a tough fight and needed powerful and wise coaches in her corner. She needed the support of the cloud of witnesses surrounding her and cheering her on spoken of in Hebrews 12. I was remembering both who I was praying for and who I was praying to. I was accurately perceiving her in the here and now. I was praying with positive regard.

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Published: 02.03.2011 / 07:31 PM

Category: Grappling with God,Relationships,Spiritual Growth,Uncategorized

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