My first kiss was with Brenda, at Regina Vaccaro’s seventh grade party. Little did I know, my brother JoJo watched us, steaming mad. Even then he was in love with her. He and Brenda were married right out of high school. Four days after that kiss I was a bachelor again. Not only because of JoJo’s knuckle sandwich, but because I hadn’t realized that in order to have a long-term relationship, say more than a week, I had to talk with the girl.
The more I study and experience prayer, the more I see a correlation. Not the knuckle sandwich part, but the idea that we simply have to talk with God! Basic, almost without saying, but it’s so often overlooked in the day to day. True prayer happens spirit to Spirit, and is the basis for an ever-deepening, love full, very long-term relationship with God.
Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Our lives in the here and now might stretch across 80 or 90 years, a lot of days, but a short term arrangement in light of eternity. The way I see it, during this short window, we have a chance to learn how to love God, a preparation for a life stretching far past our exit strategy. A day without a genuine conversation with God is a missed opportunity, because if we’re not talking with Him, we’re drifting, a little like what happened when I didn’t speak with Brenda after the kiss. But how does prayer and love work in tandem?
The meaning of prayer is to be in love. To be in a place resting from the urge to rifle through lists, or present your self a certain way. It’s a stillness that serves to set a concrete love in us, connecting our spirit to His. It also means I have rested from the expectations of religion, from the trappings of a system trying to please God. Instead, I feed a need-hunger rising from within me to be near, and ever nearer to Him.
I love the scenes in the book Moby Dick, where they lower the boats to capture a whale. The six oarsmen struggle against waves, desperately trying to catch up with the serene monster of the sea. At the bow, the harpooner sits, head down, summoning courage. He does not row, but waits and knows that at the right time his aim will determine the success of the boat’s mission. He rests as any man would, to preserve the strength he needs for a steady aim at the whale. To be in love means we do not struggle to please, we do not toil to perform, nor do we cast anxious glances behind us wondering how close to the mark we may be. Like the harpooner, we rest in love; and yet there’s more.
Prayer serves a confidence that we are fully known, and so fully at peace in knowing we are known. Is the Gospel true? Then His death eliminated the threat of death in us, and preserves the expression of love so vital to devotion. Jesus paid for all sin we will ever conspire. True prayer takes us beyond a superficial sin management, to a deep knowledge of the power of grace. In that place, we rest from threats and accusations, whispers of doubt, and gnawing worry.
Through prayer we spend the briefest lifetime building love that will last for eternity. Don’t make the mistake I made after my first kiss. Talk with God while resting at the bow, waiting on Him to rise and take aim at love!
Today His mercies are new, a first kiss. Now, we deepen love through pray.