“Never stop praying…”
1 Thessalonians 5
Our family lives in an ancient riverbed. Where crops grow, cows graze and a village sits, the Fraser River once rode right on through. The river takes a different route today but the lowlands retain certain qualities, one of them being fog. We often wake up to a thick grey veil from September to April. It’s mysterious and gloomy, which I find somewhat enchanting, and so foggy mornings are a personal favourite. I know it’s not for everyone.
Sometimes beginning to pray can feel like waking up in a kind of fog. It’s not that prayer produces unclarity, just that we become aware of what we could call “low visibility” when we start to pray. We can’t quite make out our surroundings; there’s a familiarity but it’s fleeting; what we hoped would be clear and sharp is somewhat convoluted; and sometimes the further we go into prayer the foggier it seems to get. Those days are inevitable, sometimes seasonal, usually not perpetual.
Of course it’s not often in prayer that the heavens open and a shaft of light hits us on our knees, and so the expectation that prayer will always produce pyrotechnic moments is unhelpful. But somehow prayer does remind us of what’s within the grey, what light and landscape is present. We begin to find more clarity about what’s out there, what is real, verses what is illusory. The mist isn’t all we see anymore. We can see God a little more clearly; we can see ourselves and others a little more clearly.
So it’s not that prayer promises to lift the fog, or that prayer takes us away from what’s murky. Daily, ordinary prayer simply helps us get our bearings in the middle of the mystery. And what’s so wonderful about prayer is that we needn’t “escape” the fog to participate. We don’t have to go anywhere to get clarity. After all, in prayer it’s not long before we realize the murkiness might be more internal than external. In prayer we give God the chance to “clear up” what’s swirling inside, to shine on what’s dark and bring into focus the truths that were previously out of focus, and to take appropriate action. So God makes us that much more clear in prayer, that much more sharp as to what it means to be human and real in the ways we know matter.
Prayer helps to give us sight, putting us a little more in touch with God so as maneuver as God would ask us to maneuver. Forget to pray and we forget where we are, who we are, what’s most important. Remember to pray and the thickest fog is navigable – even if it’s just one foot in front of the other.