I’ve been finding for a while that at the root of so many of my prayers is an attempt to “offer it up.”
Give it to God; Lay it at the foot of the cross; Let go and Let God - take your pick.
But as I try to offer up my faults and failures to God, I find myself time and time again frustrated when I can’t seem to let God keep them. I give over a sincere prayer of what’s been most weighing me down – my failures, my rages, my regrets, my agony over witnessing the New York Mets once again blow a lead – and then get disappointed that it remains in the forefront of my thoughts, pestering me like a bug bite. For a long time, I thought I just stunk at praying, but it may have more to do with me just being human. Scientifically, our brains are like negativity Velcro and positivity Teflon, it takes effort and practice for joys to stick and frustrations not to fester.
To help, I’ve tried recently to really make a conscious effort to reverse the order of this Offering Up. When I would “lay my problems at the foot of the cross” I used to dust off my hands and book it for the nearest exit, but I don’t think that’s prayer at its most practical or fruitful.
We’re not handing out our laundry list to Jesus and bouncing, we’re inviting Christ in to our hardships to reside with them: our first reading today even reminds us to rejoice for the Lord is “coming to dwell among you.” When our minds wander during meditative prayer let’s not try hurry through it, but follow it. I’ve found it helpful to take those thoughts and feelings, no matter how frustrating or even embarrassing, and then just simply be aware; to sit back into my soul and try to just be conscious of God’s presence in them.
I find just noticing God helps me enter a little bit more into Christ – to notice how God transcends whatever my ego might be honestly preoccupied with. During football season my prayer life is constantly distracted. For a New York Jets fan like me this is a time of agony and anguish – but when I don’t just push this feeling up and away, but instead offer God into this desolation it naturally brings me closer to the peacefulness that is God.
In Matthew 11, Jesus tells us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
When prayer becomes less about correction, and more about connection, the yoke naturally becomes easy, the burden gets lighter, and your soul finds rest. This week try to offer up and offer in your prayers, whether that means letting God into the stress of work, the troubles at home, or the fury of football season.