This week our family changed primary physicians, so I had the dreaded first visit to a new doctor. Most of you have done that changeover a few times by now in life and know well the irritation that such a task brings to bear. The people at the front desk never seem happy about it either, as they pull out clipboards and a stack of papers and legal contracts that need to be filled out. These documents cover everything from who is allowed to receive your medical information to what language you prefer to speak in. There’s a lot that is communicated through forms, but a trip to the doctor is not about forms. And so, to get deeper you are brought in for the exam portion. The nurse laughed as I stepped on the scale and audibly groaned at the number I had seen pop up in front of me… the holidays were not good to my waistline (or were perhaps excessively good to my waistline, depending on how you think of the term “good”). The nurse ran through testing of blood pressure, blood oxygenation, and then ran me through a litany of deeper medical history including the genetic health history of my family. A lot was communicated there that was beyond mere forms, but that still is not the complete medical exam. The nurse finished up and stepped out as the doctor stepped in, now the communication became very interactive. Physical examination and deeper questions regarding the function of my physical body (don’t worry, not going into details), then questions and investigation regarding my mental well-being (seemed like that checked out in case you were worried). He wanted to know about what I did for a living and we spent several minutes speaking about what a non-denominational church is and how we compare to more liturgical congregations, my favorite moment was when he asked me how much coffee I took in on a daily basis, stopped typing and went silent for a moment, and then looked at me and said: “are you serious?” At some point, the information flow reversed course. I had communicated enough to him that now he was doing most of the talking and communication to me.
As we have spent the week thinking about and meditating on the issue of prayer and communication with God, I couldn’t help but reflect on how the experiences aligned. How vital is communication in something like medical treatment? How necessary is honest and open engagement? How different would the whole thing be if one of us refused to talk? How useless would be the meeting if I had just read out loud from a grocery list? How strange would it be if I actively tried to mask my number on the scale or refused to let my blood pressure be checked because I prefer to think of myself as having better numbers. What is true of medical health is at least as true regarding spiritual health. If you want legitimate input that changes your practices you have to communicate; you cannot hide embarrassing moral realities, you must be honest about deficiencies, you must be open to letting your whole life be examined and addressed. Earnest regular prayer invites something a little scary. We see it in one of the prayers of David.
Psa 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
Are you brave enough to let God examine you? Are you trying to keep your relationship “professional” or are you being vulnerable? This week we gather to discuss our prayer lives. Join us as we discuss “Communion” (intimate communication with God).