Whenever I go to a kid’s birthday party, and they have one of those Great American Cookie Cakes, I have mixed emotions. On one hand, I get really excited because, let’s be honest, those things are amazing. (The next time someone starts talking to me about doubting the existence of God, I’ll just hand them a slab of cookie cake and yell, “Boom! Heaven is real and a slice of it is in yo face!”) But at the same time, I feel disgruntled, because I never feel like I get enough. I could have eaten three big, icing-covered pieces, and I’d still want more. It’s just. That. Good.
I think in that sense, prayer is like a cookie cake. I know that it’s great, and when I get some of it, I love it. But no matter how much of it I do, I never feel like it’s enough. And I pray a lot. I’m not bragging- in fact that’s more of a confession than a brag. I pray a lot because I have to. If I didn’t, I would just be a total jackass all the time. When I get annoyed with Liz, I pray to keep from saying something stupid. When Sam’s getting on my nerves, I pray to keep from locking him in the pantry. When I get cut off in traffic, when a church member says something I don’t like, when my lawnmower throws a belt, when my burger takes longer than I think it should to get to my window, when money is tight, when I can’t find my other sock, I pray for patience, wisdom, guidance, love, kindness. I’m learning what Paul meant when he told people to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17) For me, it’s “pray without ceasing or you’re gonna be a terrible person to be around.”
And still, I always feel like there are more things to pray about, and more time could have been spent in prayer about some things, and I could’ve prayed better or longer or more often. Think of it like this: if you’ve had a white t-shirt for a couple of years, it’s not really white anymore, right? If you’re getting dressed in the dark, early in the morning, that shirt might look white, but when you walk out of your room into the hallway and a little light hits it, it doesn’t look as white anymore. And if you have a brighter light in the kitchen, it looks even dirtier than it did in the hall. The closer you get to bright lights, the more “not-white” that shirt seems. When you’re in the dark, you don’t notice that it’s faded, kinda yellowish, got a few stains on it, but in the light, all that stuff shows up, and you get kind of embarrassed about it.
I know that I need to pray. The catch-22 is that the more I pray, the more I realize just how much I need to pray. And when I pray more, I realize that I need to pray more, and on and on it goes. Not that that’s a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing- it’s part of God’s process of refining me, spending time with me, teaching me, calling me into a deeper relationship with himself.
I usually try to have a strong ending, but I don’t have a good way to wrap this up, so I’ll just end it abruptly with this summary:
- Prayer is good.
- God is gracious.
- Praying leads to more prayer, ad infinitum.
- I love me some cookie cake.