Eat, Pray, Whine
Well, because we can’t always tell the difference between praying and whining. And somewhere inside we know there is a difference. But if we have walked in faith a while, we also know God hears us, whether we know how to “do it right” or not.
So what’s a needy misfit ta do?! A newbie? Beginner? Anyone recently humbled by circumstances enough to get down on those knees?
The answer is simple. Just talk to God.
Then you wonder, especially at first:
What’s the “right” way to do it? (Do we have to kneel? Fold our hands? Talk out loud?)
Why doesn’t God answer me? (Meaning say “YES”!)
Does pathetic, desperate whining count? (Wait, isn’t that how we’ve been communicating with our buddies?)
I remember many years ago, when I first got serious with God, I starting reading the Bible. Not to “know stuff,” but because I desperately needed Him to DO something for me. I had come to Him by faith alright, but had very bloody knees from the journey.
It was easy to find verses that cheered me up, taught me what God wanted, gave my life meaning. Still, when I got into that dark closet to actually PRAY (with kids yelling outside the door wondering where mommy went), I remember the confusion:
“Sir, should I call you Jesus? Or God? Or what?” I had read enough to know He was actually all three “persons”: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. But not enough to know how I should address Him. I think I really did start with “Sir.”
You can google “who do I pray to, God or Jesus” and get a lot of scholarly support to say this: any of them. Or, apparently, even “Sir.” Because He answered me, led me, taught me, showed me my “spiritual ears”…all while I was still so ignorant.
But over time, as you read the Bible, listen to sermons, podcasts, read Christian books, you begin to sense there are some SUPER POWER currents available that might not be obvious at first. Scripture puts it like this: He gives the babies (newbies, in modern jargon) MILK…and He gives older pilgrims MEAT. (“I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it…” (I Corinthians 3:2) When we mature in the faith, we start to chew verses like this and begin to see why He doesn’t always just give us what we want:
“If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).
We back up and see the words we skimmed before: “and my words abide in you.”
Yeah. The first whiff of power. His words. Not ours. Hmmmmm….
We start to get the picture. Other verses tell us we are on the right track:
“If we ask anything according to His will He hears us” (1 John 5:14)
According to His will. Oops. T’was pretty much OUR will we were hoping for, wasn’t it?
Those two verses give us a sense of what we need to add to our prayers—HIS words–and we begin to practice. And we feel our soul grow a bit.
Then our own personal battles gain footing on the road. We get braver to take our story to His Spirit, whether out loud or whispered in our hearts: “Help me…”
And we find HIS words for OUR battles.
My first battle was for my children. Because of my own childhood losses and wounded spirit, all I really wanted was to keep them safe. To know He would guard them, keep them. I searched scripture and discovered Psalm 91. Learned to pray it as I read it, putting their names into the spaces:
Lord, do not let (their names) fear the terror of the night …
Command Your angels to guard (them) in all their ways…
When (they) call upon You, answer them. Be with them in trouble, deliver them, honor them.
Satisfy (them) with long life and show (them) Your salvation…
It was a little tricky at first. Awkward words from thousands of years ago. But they were GOD’s words and they DID what I sent them to do, the tear-stained pages of my old Bible as my witness. And it became easier, more natural, every time I did it. In bedrooms, hospital rooms, by morning light, and in the middle of the night.
Not a bad place to start. Loving your children or other “beloveds” is as natural and holy a reason as there is in this world. But He loves you for who and how you are. Maybe He will lead you to another verse entirely to begin. There are many. The power of His words is deep and personal.
Where you go with it next depends on what your needs are at the time. First thing to do: learn to be totally open and honest with God. We are so used to pretending to be something we aren’t in public, we forget we have complete freedom in Him. JUST SAY IT! Out LOUD if you can! “Lord, I’m so sick, so scared, so lonely, so angry, so desperate….Name names! Give details! It ain’t like He doesn’t already KNOW. Just healing for us to realize it’s OKAY. That we have a witness to our heart’s needs. Then we know the wound to put the salve of His Word on.
My first area of expertise was FEAR. I had panic disorder for 17 years before they even had a name for them. Attacks of illogical pounding fear split my nights, spoiled my days. I found His words about that. Wrote them on index cards and taped them to walls. Pinned them to my pillow. Along with changing my Life Plans, those attacks changed my spirit’s journey:
“Fear not, for I am with you…” Isaiah 41:10
“God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
It was a very long war. But the prize was something even better than a Purple Heart.
Now I am almost grown up enough to pray them for others. Or give them to others to pray for themselves. Perfectly? Never. I lose heart, give up, watch 59 episodes of X-Files instead…all the varieties of ways we wander. But now I know where to go to find His words. And know the taste of the power behind them. God’s own power for:
Healing. “For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 30:17. And many more.
Temptation. “”God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (I Corinthians 10:13)
Forgiveness AND healing (“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.” (Psalm 103)
Anger. (“the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)
Depression. (“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him” (Romans 15:13)
Like breadcrumbs in the forest, they lead us through the dark, give us hope, transform our souls. God’s own words. Not ours. Praying them, hanging on them like life preservers in the ocean, we exchange our life for His, our whining for His words, our begging for His will.
You can look any word up in online Bible tools and find your “cure.”
When all you get in Webster’s when you look up “whine” is “to complain in an annoying way.”
Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt.