“The lack of synchronicity between nature and man caused the lack of synchronicity between body and soul. When the nightingale isn’t heard, the Molotov cocktail is.” Odysseas Elytis
We want to be heard. This much is self evident. When it comes to being heard by God, we will resort to Molotov cocktails, screams and groans. There is no such thing as bad prayer – except not praying at all. It would appear that Our Abba is patiently present to us in whatever forms of prayer we have. The Apostle Paul even goes so far as to say (Romans 8:26 ESV):
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
“True prayer,” writes Karl Barth, “is sure of a hearing… We can doubt the value, power and sincerity of our own asking, but not God’s hearing… It is because it is heard that we pray, and not because we are so skilled in asking.” If all we have are groans, this is enough.
We might consider today’s prayer to be groans that come from “this rude chair of praises.” This psalm/poem comes from an unusual but creative source; it comes from Leonard Cohen’s “Book of Mercy.” As I do not have the original book in my possession, I offer what I had copied in my Journal when I first read it. I was struck by the honesty and insight of Cohen’s prayer; and he could not put it better in how he realizes, “all that is not you is suffering…” In a way, our prayerful journey is seeking to find “all that is You.”
“Sit down Master, on this rude chair of praises, and rule my nervous heart with your great decrees of freedom.
Out of time you have taken me to do my daily task.
Out of mist and dust you have fashioned me to know the numberless words between the crown and the kingdom.
In utter defeat I come to you and you received me with a sweetness I had not dared to remember. Tonight I come to you again, soiled by strategies and trapped in the loneliness of my tiny domain.
Establish your law in this walled place.
… all that is not you is suffering; all that is not you is solitude rehearsing the arguments of loss.”
Thanks to The Joe for lending me this book in 2008.