“You must believe in the yes that comes back when you ask, “Do you love me?” You must choose this yes even when you do not experience it.” Henri Nouwen
Many years ago, as a young boy, I was dragged along by my parents to the Sunday afternoon tea ritual with my Aunty Nelly. Numbed and damagedly bored by the conversation I would inwardly groan as the pointing finger of my Aunt rose in my direction.
“Why is he so big” she would say. Such a question simply opened up a black hole of despair in my vulnerable brain, but my Dad came to the rescue.
“He is big, because he eats lots of bread pudding…”
Arriving home after the ordeal, I looked up to my Dad and asked,
“Am I really big because of bread pudding?”
“No son,” he replied,
“The bread pudding was for your Aunty Nelly…You are big because I love you. It’s my loving that make’s you grow.”
With that he knelt down, gave me a hug and planted a big kiss on my forehead.
That lesson has stayed with me for decades. If you want to grow big, if you want to learn to pray, you must know that you are loved! It is not the “bread pudding” of quick fix, legalistic formulas and Christian jargon that will strengthen your spiritual muscle, but a simple surrendering to an intimate relation with your heavenly Father.
Jesus, at the very beginning of his ministry, models this prayer and life principle for us.
“When all the people were being baptised, Jesus was baptised too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21-22
Prayer also begins a dialogue – it releases the voice of the Father carried on the wings of a dove. Hearing this voice is the basic essential for building a prayer life. Hear His voice speaking to you now, calming the storm of pain and suffering or invading the mundane monotony of yet another prayerless day.
“You are my son/daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
We all become heroes when we know we are loved.
Allow the kiss of the Holy Spirit to settle on your forehead, and let Him strengthen you for prayer. Don’t worry if you do not know what to pray in the beginning – such weakness is actually a great asset!
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26
Do you sometimes “groan” inwardly as you watch the news or see the madness of life around you? Do deep sighs nestle in your breast as you contemplate your own limits to living? Interpret the breath of God into such pain and find a prayer that even the greatest poet cannot pen.
Great groaners can become great prayers.
As you carry the longing up your own particular mountain of prayer, remember to hear the all sustaining voice that leads you upward.
In your pain and doubt you cry, “Do you love me, do you really love me?”
Choose to hear the “yes”…