An Alphabet of Prayer

Thursday, February 10, 2022

The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

Inbreaking: As we meander through our relationship with God, there is the divine gift of ever-presence. When we pray, God is all ears. We are lured toward “praying without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and imagine that if we were truly distraction-free it might be possible. We rely on the always-there-ness of God.

And yet the limits of language persist. How do we begin to talk about the fact that some days feel more in tune with the presence of God than others? While we know and trust that God is always there, we also talk about God-moments, times when we were brought into God’s presence in unique, tender, or poignant ways. It is challenging to talk about how we experience and discern the divine.

I love the word inbreaking to describe those times when God seems inescapable. For me it looks like transcendence on the mountain top, awe at the sun set, goosebumps when everything seems to align, dampening eyes at the swell and crescendo of the choir’s “hallelujah,” the quickening heart entering a sacred place or witnessing an ancient ritual, breathtaking gratitude when tragedy is averted. All of it signaling something unrepeatable. We can’t replicate, duplicate, or reproduce those times when we felt aligned with God. In some sort of deeper way, God breaks through the thin veil between us.

Taking an even wider view, the inbreaking of God’s presence unfolded in first century Palestine—Jesus revealing God’s presence anew day by day on the Sea of Galilee and the villages around Jerusalem. We long for and participate in God’s inbreaking presence when we live aligned with Jesus’ impossible and holy vision to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18). And we await God’s future inbreaking in hope.

Praying the Alphabet
Incarnate One, inexhaustible and inescapable,
We instantly long to be immersed in your spirit,
our identity intensified by your indwelling presence.
We immerse ourselves in ethical inconsistencies.
We seize the illusion of control.
We isolate ourselves from your incarnational love.
But you see our immeasurable imperfections
and include us anyway.
Ignite us. Inspire us.
Infuse us with your ineffable presence.

February 10, 2022

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