When you think about many of the typical Stephen King stories, The Mist and 1408 being two recent film examples, what do we have? Interesting characters living life in the ordinary until the transcendent, the unknown, bursts in on them. I have always thought that was one of the strengths of horror, how it not only acknowledges a spiritual dimension to life, but that we also have to wrestle with that same transcendent reality when it picks the most inopportune times to break up our routine.

Which, in my own convoluted way, brings me to the idea of prayer. I envy the prayer warriors in our church. There are some folks who are quick to fall to their knees in prayer, who are in regular conversation with Him, and who have no problems going through any of the prayer postures and meditations that are a part of our gathering. Can I be honest with you? I’m not always there. Prayer scares me in a lot of ways. In fact, my fears boil down to two issues, what does faith filled prayer look like and who are we praying to?

The idea of faith-filled prayer, really believing what we say we’re talking about, really rocked me as I thought through the implications of the question. Think of how often we hedge our bets while praying. Look at how tepid our prayers often are: when it comes to people being sick, we pray for God to guide our doctor’s hands (all of whom must have the shakiest hands on planet the way we keep praying for them). We rarely pray for supernatural healing and I think one reason is that we don’t know what to do with it, either in the praying or in the receiving of it.

Think about the web site “Why won’t God heal amputees?” That’s an interesting question to ponder. What do we do with unanswered prayer? We struggle. God doesn’t exist. God doesn’t care. We’re left feeling as if the whole time we were talking to our invisible friend. We then get to wrestle with the idea of God’s silence, possible non-existence, or the sense of abandonment (leading to what some call the dark night of the soul).

But what if He did? What if God burst in with full revelation, as He was often recorded doing in the Bible? I don’t think we could handle it. Look at those same stories in the Bible: after every miracle, it was like people embraced a type of amnesia. They either forgot what they just witnessed or became blasé with a “yeah, but what have you done for me lately?” attitude. Either way, an encounter with supernatural would rock our worldview to its foundation (and that’s even if you already believed in Him in the first place).

We walk in tensions and paradoxes in our lives. Too often I think we have this schizophrenic view of God: half the time we treat Him like this cosmic genie doling out blessings like He’s the great Santa in the sky. The other half, we think of God like He’s a guy who hides behind the bushes waiting for us to screw up so that He can leap out, yell “ah ha!”, then heap plagues into our lives.

We want a God we can control and understand, but by losing the idea of what it means to have a fear of the Lord, we end up trivializing God. God is God. I don’t know how He chooses to answer or not answer prayers. Maybe something else is going on that I don’t get/know. Maybe there’s a bigger story in play than the one I’m writing in my life and mind. I do know that I pray to create a rhythm to my life, to quiet my thoughts, to align heart and connect it to God’s. Prayer exposes my heart, allows me to commune with God in relationship, and is ultimately a surrender to His authorship.

And as anti-intellectual as this may sound (my personal tension being a man of faith as well as a man of intellect), I follow even when I’m frustrated, angry, confused. The point is to stick with Him, praying full out, and then dealing with “no” as an answer later.