I’ve been spending some time in Paul’s letter to the Colossians. As is my habit, because I am rather dense about matters of the spirit, I read and reread short sections, day after day, trying to quiet the mind, shut out the noise, and open the spirit to insight beyond what this world has to offer.
And the noise is relentless, played at full volume, unmercifully, irrationally, without pause or purpose. Health care reform. Corrupt and condescending politicians. Wars and rumors of wars. Recession and depression. Culture clashes and the death throes of a dying society. Insistent demands in my head for just one more thing, another possession, to satisfy the emptiness of the soul and feed the lie that my wants are one with my needs.
And so I come to this:
This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.
And I start to wonder, what would happen, if I prayed like that? Without stopping? For things such as these?
What would happen if, with every person I encounter each day, be it friend, foe or family, that I prayed for them? Short prayers, simple requests for gifts of wisdom and understanding for them?
What would happen if, with each patient I see, I were to ask for such wisdom and understanding, endurance and patience?
What would happen if, rather than obsessively seeking the opinions of those whose ideas reinforce my own convictions and feed my frustrations, I prayed instead for peace within my heart, and thanksgiving for all I have and have received? What would happen if I prayed instead to be a better citizen of the kingdom of the light rather than trying to wrestle the kingdom of darkness, already defeated, to the ground?
What would happen if, instead of merely passively and passionately following the demands of my many addictions and compulsions, dark desires and destructive impulses, I sought instead through prayer and perseverence the power to overcome them?
What would happen if, I prayed for the Church, to purify herself from the world and find once again her First Love? What would happen if I prayed for my pastor and my congregation, rather than finding fault with this teaching or that behavior? What would happen should I pray that the Church — yes, and that specifically includes me, and mine — would be passionate about sharing the truth of the Good News, that it might “bear fruit by changing lives,” when so many need just such change, and can find it nowhere else?
What would happen if, I prayed to be able to pray like that, since my mind and my spirit are so deadened by the noise and distractions and by the mental parasites that paralyze the soul and sap the spirit?
Just wondering, what would happen, if…