On Prayer and Place

After 3 final exams, 1 paper, 1 portfolio, and 2 flights, I’m home for Christmas break. And what did I do when I got home? Went to do meals-on-wheels, went to my brother’s graduation and celebration dinner, went to the Fort Worth stockyards, and went to see my sister-in-law play saxophone at a Christmas fair. It’s rare for me to get so much quality time with family, so I’ve truly enjoyed it. But I’ve also noticed a trend: When I go home for school breaks, I tend to go places and have events (which occasionally means going to the couch and having a nap with my dog)…but I don’t think to pray or open my Bible.

I think prayer in particular gets associated with certain places in our lives. For instance, my go-to “prayer places” last semester included the bed in my dorm room and a certain bench in the University Center. And, when I really had something to discuss with the Lord I would whip out my journal or go for a walk outside.

But, now that I think about it, although my dorm room and the University Center are now halfway across the country, journals and sidewalks are still available. No matter where we are, God has given us access to himself — perhaps by blessing us with journals and sidewalks and certainly by providing us with the channel that is Christ Jesus (John 14:6) and the translator that is the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27).

Describing God’s omnipresence, Bishop John Shelby Spong describes that, in the course of human history, “theism would come to speak of a nontribal deity who stretched beyond tribal barriers” in part because Jews in exile “discovered that somehow they could still ‘sing the Lord’s song in a strange land'” (Psalm 137:4). Spong offers an interesting interpretation of Psalm 137, since contextually the psalm actually poses a mournful question (“How could we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?”) rather than a divine revelation of the Lord’s universality (Psalm 137:4). I think by asking how to sing and then proceeding to sing, thus answering their own question, the exiled Jews did in fact glimpse the Lord’s miraculous universality.

So, while away from my routine, I hope to ask God: How can I sing Your song while I am where I am? How can I spend time with You and pray to You without the familiar people and places?

As Anne Lamott writes, “churches are good for prayer, but so are garages and cars and mountains and showers and dance floors.” He is everywhere. Let’s talk to Him anywhere.

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A few relevant PostSecret images:

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