Monthly Archives: July 2015

Prayer Advice From A Total Newb

I’ve been trying to pray more. I’m bad at praying. Last night my friend asked me, “Isn’t praying the same as just talking to God?” Maybe it is and I’ve been doing it wrong, but from my experience, it seems like it’s somehow spiritually and mentally different. I’m not sure how to explain it. It involves getting very close to God, and that’s intimidating. Something I have discovered that’s helped a lot, though, is that prayer starts with humility. If you realize and acknowledge how tiny you are, it becomes easier. In a way, though it is just like “talking to God,” because you have to work through exactly what it is you need. I’ve also discovered that begging doesn’t seem to work–for me at least. I’m not sure why. Generally, I think it’s because God wants me to get somewhere or discover something before he’ll give me whatever it is what I’m asking for. On the other hand, there have been occasions where I’ve just stopped and said, “Hey, listen, this is important to me. Think you could help me out?” and whatever it is will be given.

Despite the fact that I feel I’m rather awkward about it, prayer works for me. I was talking to a kid I mentored about it the other day, and he said that part of the reason he doesn’t believe in the Christian God is because prayer hadn’t worked for him. He asked me if it did work for me, and I told him that I wouldn’t have got through college if it hadn’t been for God answering my prayers. I firmly believe that he’s helped me out with everything from emotional issues to tough classes.

Something else I’ve learned is that you can’t just idly wait for God to answer prayers. A lot of times the answer to a prayer involves you doing something. A lot of time it means trying everything under the sun, and allowing God to push you in the right direction. Sometimes prayers are a little something like this: “God, I’m afraid to do X or Y, so drive me up a wall until I can’t stand it any more and just do it.” That’s worked for me before.

Ultimately, there’s no “standard” or “correct” way to pray. Different things work at different times for different reasons. I don’t always feel sincere when I recite prayers (like the Our Father or the Fatima Prayer), but sometimes I do. On the other hand, a lot of people find it a lot easier to pray if they don’t have to search for the words. Sometimes things you wouldn’t even think of are a kind of prayer, like simply being with someone, and loving them so hard it hurts. The most important thing is sincerity. Mean what you say. Don’t just pray because you’re supposed to. Pray because you want to; because you need to. Remember the good in this world. Remember the good in your life. Remember that God loves you and loves the world, and acknowledge those things because they’re important.

Like I said, I’m not very good at prayer. I feel like I could be a million times better, but the point is that God listens. It doesn’t matter how eloquent or knowledgeable you are. What matters is that you’re making an effort to communicate with the God of the Universe in a meaningful way. In effect, you’re  saying “I have no idea where I’m going. You drive.”

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

“You Need To Get Out More”

Last night my dad and I were playing video games, and he said to me, “You need to get out more. The only people you talk to are yourself and your bird.” I found that rather offensive. The reason I don’t go out more is because I live in suburbia and can’t drive. Every time I need or want to go somewhere I have to ask for a ride, and I hate inconveniencing anyone. Plus, even if I did “go out more,” I don’t even know where I would go. I don’t drink; I don’t like crowds; there’s not much in Boston that I haven’t already seen.

Later, I realized something: I am absolutely terrified of the real world. I am terrified of making a fool of myself. I am terrified of failure. I just finished writing page fifty six in my novel. I actually love how well it’s going so far. There are things that need tweaking. There will always be things that need tweaking, but this is the farthest I’ve ever got in the endeavor to write a fantasy story. I’ve wanted to be a famous musician since I was a little kid, but I’ve always wanted to write a good novel, too. Last night I thought: “What am I even doing? I don’t have a paying job; I don’t know how this is going to go; I don’t even know if I really actually want to write a novel.” Sometimes I don’t.

My parents gave me a year to do whatever I want. I have to try and do something meaningful in that year. That was the one stipulation, but I can do whatever I want. The trouble is I don’t want to do anything. I literally just want to do nothing. I want to sit and enjoy the sunshine. I want to read books. I want to read the Bible cover to cover. I want to play video games. I want to waste time and not feel bad about wasting it.

My mom suggested finding a group for writers who are working on novels for the first time. I like that idea, but the truth is that even that scares me. I guess I’m more scared of people than I even realized. It’s not just that, though. I feel like I should know what I’m supposed to be doing by now. I feel like I should have a clear path. My brother knows he wants to be a doctor. He has at least the next ten years of his life planned out. I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow. People at school would say that they felt “called” to do X or Y, but I feel like I’m just floundering. I don’t know what I’m “meant” to do, if anything.

I still don’t, but what I realized is that I have to do something. I have to choose a path and stick to it, so I’m going to finish my book. I may not feel like I’m going anywhere with it sometimes, but I have to finish it. I can’t stop now that I’ve got so far. I think it’s a good story, and I’m proud of what I’ve written so far. I just have to remind myself, when I don’t feel like it’s going anywhere, that the sooner I finish, the sooner I can get it published and maybe make some money off of it… or if it flops, the sooner I can do something else. The other thing I reminded myself of last night is that things happen slower than I think they will, or want them to, sometimes, and I don’t know how most things will end. I have to be patient, and I have to trust God, because I may not know what I’m doing, but he knows exactly what he’s doing, and he’s not just going to leave me floundering. I’ll figure it out. I’m going to finish my book, and I’m going to go outside of my comfort zone and find a writing group.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Miracles And Disasters And Storytellers

I read something yesterday talking about God’s worthiness (e.g. he is worthy of honor, respect, etc). It’s hard to understand the notion that one should fear God, but I don’t think it’s strange, nor is it opposed to the notion that one should love God. For one thing, God is scary. It makes sense that us puny humans would and should be afraid of the most powerful being in the universe; but on the other hand, this same all-powerful being, who could destroy all human life without lifting a finger, is the epitome of love. That is precisely why he is worthy.

I read a post on another blog that was talking about how some more vocal (and in my opinion, obnoxious) atheists are hellbent on presenting the God of the Old Testament as some kind of serial killer. It’s not an excuse to say that he did what he did because he had a plan and he was bringing his chosen people to their promised land. The fact of the matter is that, in a lot of those stories, he killed people, either vicariously, or by supernatural means. The fact of the matter is, however, that many of the Old Testament stories are allegory. Take the creation story, for example. If one believes in The Big Bang and evolution, which I do, then one has to read the six days in Genesis as perhaps six periods in the beginning of time. The earth was not made in six literal days.

Over and over, people cite Noah’s adventure as an example of where God just arbitrarily decides to kill off all of humanity. To be honest, I don’t have a good, literary interpretation for that story, but the truth is that I don’t need one. God didn’t wipe out all of humanity because we’re still here. There is no scientific evidence indicating a global flood, but some argue that there is sufficient evidence to suggest a “local” flood (i.e. a flood that devastated or disrupted the general area in which Noah and his family resided). Historically, peoples’ ideas of what one meant when describing “the entire earth,” were much smaller than ours. Most of the world was uncharted territory.

Perhaps there was a flood, and the people of that time attributed it to God. This is understandable. When one has no modern science, it is easy to attribute catastrophic events, and miraculous ones to God. But we don’t attribute earthquakes and tsunamis and hurricanes to God these days. Those are generally understood, by believers and nonbelievers alike, to be freak accidents. I think it is dangerous to attribute natural events to any supernatural being without some serious thought and investigation. That is not to say that God does not orchestrate natural events. Events like the creation and birth of a child are nothing less than miraculous, no matter how you slice it.

What this all boils down to is that sometimes I feel the need to defend my faith in a God I know is good and loving and merciful. I don’t understand everything in the Bible, and I can freely and openly admit that. I feel that it would be untrue to say that God doesn’t pick sides. I think he does pick sides, but often, he is on the side of the losers. He was, and still is, on the side of Israel, and Israel killed their enemies and took their land. This is true. His ultimate plan, however, is to unite the entire world under one flag. Until then there will always be wars. There will always be violence. There will always be winners and losers; but in the end there will be peace, and that peace will be unending.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Let It Out

Lately I’ve been feeling like there’s something inside of me that I want to let out but I can’t. I know how to let it out, but I’m afraid to. I’ve had really bad writer’s block lately, and I feel like my prayers are somehow ingenuine or inadequate. Even though I know it’s not, it feels pointless. I feel like I have to let this thing out for things to change. I keep praying for opportunities and for the courage to do so, but I feel like I keep missing my chance or I chicken out right when I’m supposed to say what I need to.

My best friend is not Christian, and I respect that. We talk about religion and philosophy all the time, and we respect each others’ opinions. I want her to know Jesus, and I don’t think she knows that. All I want to ask is that she talk to God. She doesn’t even need to pray. Just talk. Just say “hi” and tell him how her day is going. Tell him what’s going on in her life. Just talk. I haven’t asked her to do this because I’m afraid of stepping over a line. I’m afraid she’ll feel like I’m pushing my religion on her. Part of me knows she wouldn’t react that way, but something is stopping me and it’s driving me crazy.

I can’t not share Jesus with her. I want to very badly. I just don’t know how to do it right. There probably sin’t a right way to do it. I’ve researched ideas and other peoples’ experiences with this kind of thing, and what people of other religions think. I’ve rehearsed what I would say in my head. I’ve waited for the opportune moment and repeatedly missed it. I need to do this because it’s messing things up. I’d really appreciate it if peeps would pray for me. Thanks in advance!

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!