Updated: Apr 30, 2021
1 Once upon a time, a great king had a trusted and dear advisor. In times of trouble, the king sought out his counsel and heeded his words above all others. Over time, the other advisors grew jealous, so they decided to spread lies and slander to any who would listen. Eventually, these lies took root, spawning great rumors of betrayal that eventually reached the king. The sheer number of the stories convinced the king of their truth, and so he had the man seized in the middle of the night and thrown into a deep dungeon. Confused, he cried out to the jailors, but his words were unheeded. Eventually, wearied by his tears, and the darkness of the dungeon, he fell asleep. When he awoke, he forgot all about the events of last night, and seeing that it was still dark believed he had woken in the middle of the night, and so went back to sleep. He continued in this wise his entire time in the dungeon. His nails and his hair grew long and white and still, he slept and slept. Other prisoners considered him the wisest prisoner they ever knew, and all tried to emulate him, but no one ever really could.
We all overuse distractions: things that in a sense keep us asleep, unaware of suffering (or the possibility of it). And in a certain sense, this is good, for it would be morbid to dwell on every little painful thing we experience or hear of. But sometimes, suffering that we cannot ignore, pain that we cannot forget, and thoughts that we cannot organize or dispel befalls us. There is a pain that brings us to the edge of ourselves, and to the limit of our capabilities. When this happens, the only option, the only solution available to us is a spiritual one. At this point, we need to reach out beyond ourselves and beyond the physical to find a root for our vulnerability, and strength for our weakness while experiencing something much larger than ourselves. Simply put, we need God. We need to ask for His help to navigate through life. Moments of intense need reveal this, shattering the illusion of our ultimate self-sufficiency.
Prayer is simply doing that. Prayer is reaching out to God. It is a simple attempt to find something more in our lives. True prayer is not an attempt to circumvent our experience, rather it is the courage to engage our experience; to go to the depth of our need, to reach out to its ultimate fulfillment. Speak! Express exactly where you’re at and what you’re feeling; write it in a journal, shout it to the ceiling. At the bottom of it all is a simple need for guidance, for help, for love. Even if you do not believe in God, have the courage to express that need, and see what happens. “I don’t know what to do.” “Please help me, God.” In one way or another, God will respond (for actually, He is always seeking us before we seek him) - a subtle shift will occur, a way forward will appear. Perhaps it will not be immediate, perhaps you will have to wait for it, but help and guidance will come into your life - because God loves you.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed are those who trust in him.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.