My Blasphemous Prayers

C.S. Lewis has this short poem called “Footnote To All Prayers” where he talks about how all our communications with God are hopelessly idolatrous and muddied with self. I thought of it last night while talking with a friend about relationships.

“… taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshipping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts …”

This is all of worship, for me. I never sing a hymn without corrupting it with thoughts of the manner of my singing of it. I never give to those less fortunate without thinking more about the giver than the gift (to say nothing of the Giver). No matter how hard I try, I can’t finish any prayer of more than thirty seconds without drifting into moments of wrestling and anticipatory rehearsal that completely lose sight of my Source and trust my own planning instead. I cannot give, sing, pray, rejoice, weep, or love without infecting my efforts with ruinous “me-ness.”

All of life is worship. Perhaps no single element of the “non-Sunday” forms of worship captures my heart like that of true brotherhood, the pursuit of Christ-centered, gospel-driven, grace-focused friendship. I have a lot of good friends. I have been so very blessed to be able to walk alongside some amazing people. And I have loved all of them terribly. Really really badly.

I can’t seem to do it right. I’m afraid. I’m selfish. I put my needs before theirs, consider my wants more pressing. I doubt and question. I withdraw and hide. Just this week, I had to send two emails of apology to friends I now realize I had treated poorly years before. It made my shoulders sag to think that there may well be ways I’m treating friends right now that will require more letters of repentance in the future. Some times I feel so bad at it that I just want to stop, and settle into a life of relative solitude.

But Lewis calls me out. I never raise my hands to God without thinking about those beside me. But I still raise my hands. I never take the bread and the cup really resting in my status as “worthy.” But I push into the throne room nonetheless. I never love selflessly. I never love my neighbor truly as myself. I never love my brothers like Jesus loved me. But still I love. I must.

I don’t get to stop praying because I’m not good at it. I trust the Holy Spirit to interpret my distracted gibberish for my Father. I don’t get to stop singing praises because my heart can’t stay in perfect focus. I trust in God’s fatherly heart toward me that will hear my lisping wails and call them beautiful. I don’t get to stop loving because I can’t seem to love well. I must trust Jesus to love others through me and sanctify my fumbling attempts.

So, I get up, quietly whisper more apologies to ones I love that I’ve let down, and I try again.

Originally posted to my Facebook page, November 2, 2013.

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