Monday, September 10, 2007

Pray from the "gut"

Recently in church we talked about prayer that comes from the "gut." This was a word-play reminding us of the prayer of Jonah when he was in the belly or "gut" of a great fish sent by God to save him from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. We discussed that kind of prayer that comes from deep within the soul and articulates the true and intimate cries of a person to the God they know still saves. For me, this was not merely life theory derived from exegesis of the biblical text. It was that plus life history born of my own "Jonah" experience in the U.S. Navy.

When at Naval Training Center, Orlando FL, I had passed Nuclear Field "A" School but was unable to succeed in Nuclear Power School. "Washing out" of such a goal was a heavy weight for a young 19 year old who lacked the maturity to maintain a healthy separation of activity from identity. As a result, I had a few days in the hospital, physically and emotionally depleted, to hopefully consider alternatives to suicide for making the pain go away. It was during that time of crisis that I prayed from the "gut," recalling my faith in God, rehearsing my history with him and committing myself to keep following him wherever he leads.

Many who suffer from depression as I did often do not recover in the same manner I did. I would, therefore, never want to create the expectation that they might or should. Nevertheless, the Lord seemed to cause me to be ejected from that situation in no less dramatic a manner than Jonah was vomited from the fish. Now, when I pray, I can include that episode when I rehearse my history with God. Above is a video that places that event in context. It was originally prepared for a Spiritual Formation group at Dallas Theological Seminary of which I was a part.

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