I’m what they call a “second career” minister. Actually, it’s like my fourth career—careers that have literally consumed decades. All through the 80’s I am a rock & roll DJ and program director on the radio. In the 90’s, I work in promotion and marketing for major record companies in the music business. Now I get to say, “at the turn of the century” and sound like my grandma—but in the aughts, I work again in radio and television. This time, I’m in the advertising sales management end of it instead of content. By the time I finish seminary, I don’t actually start working as a minister until 2010.
I’ll never forget when I get the call to ministry. It’s the fall of 2003. You don’t forget a thing like that, I assure you! I’m happy to tell you about that sometime if you’re curious, but it’s too much to go into here. Anyway, here comes the call to ministry and it’s time to tell the kids. I’ll never forget my son Blake’s response. He’s in middle school at the time and all of a sudden, he sees himself as a “PK” (preacher’s kid). He says, “Oh that’s just great, Dad! Now, everywhere I go people are going to ask me to pray!” And he isn’t happy about it.
OMG, don’t ask me to pray!
And I understand. Blake’s reaction to prayer or the idea of it is in no way out of the ordinary. I think we all understand the pressure.
What do I say to God? How do I say it to God? Do I have the “right” words? What’s the “right way” to do it? Where should I be when I do it? Do I have to get down on my knees? Every time? Do I have to talk out loud?
Will God even hear me?
Who am I praying to?
(There’s a little trinitarian snapshot for you…)
How does that work?
Is there anybody listening anyway?
It’s enough to make your brain hurt!
So I’m having a conversation with this guy a couple years ago, and he tells me a story about weeding the garden in his backyard. Turns out, his wife overhears him. She comes out the back door and says, “I can hear you through the kitchen window, who are you talking to?”
He says, “Just talking to myself.”
She teases him about “not answering” himself or “let me know if you get any answers.” etc. etc.
I can relate. I talk to myself all the time. And I tell him that I do.
Maybe you do, too!
It’s okay—you’re not crazy.
I think it’s prayer! Seriously. Like we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re talking to ourselves, that nobody’s listening.
I don’t think God misses a word.
No matter how we’re saying, thinking, seeing, sitting, standing, loving, touching, squeezing. Whatever!
God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Universe, Allah, Great Spirit, Light, Smoke, Fire, Clouds, Sunshine, Rain.
From whatever pronoun you use for yourself to whatever pronoun you use for God, I think God by any other name is still God.
And I think that God is always listening.
Always in all ways.
So, give it a shot.
Think about it. Don’t think about it. It just is.
Don’t worry about the words you use or don’t use or what you say out loud or don’t say out loud. Don’t worry if you’re just listening.
Don’t worry at all.
It’s all prayer.
Always in all ways.
God never sleeps.
Grace and peace,
Assorted muttering and armchair theology from the interim pastor, Rev. Scott Foster.