Editing My Prayers

11.13.13 | by Aarron Schwartz

    How do professional photographers get such incredible shots?  Perfect color.  Perfect angles.  Perfect timing.  Our friends Katie and Heather are amazing photographers.  Both have done family shoots with us on different occasions and delivered beautiful pictures.  The funny thing is, every time we do one I think it was a disaster.  I admit I hate annual family photo time.  Every year Crystal sets up a time and place, and I find an “outfit” on my bed one morning.  We wrestle the kids into their clothes, hurry them into the car, and spend most of the morning refereeing fights.   After an hour or so of forcing smiles between urgent potty runs, I am just relieved its over.  A few days later I am surprised by images of a beautiful, joyful, family.  I am fairly certain it’s ours.

    It’s only recently I realized that a photographer takes more bad shots than good ones.  You just don’t see those in the final product.  A great photographer is not worried about taking bad pictures.  He or she is concerned with taking LOTS of pictures.  Especially now that digital cameras have done away with the need for film, it just makes sense to take as many shots as possible.  Editing does the rest.  A few weeks ago, my friend Jim Brown who is a photographer for USA Today, got an incredible photo in the end zone during a UT Vols game which got national attention.  Here is the link if you haven't seen it yet: tw.usatoday.com/2013/10/how-one-photographer-got-the-best-college-football-photo-of-the-year/page/10/  I asked him how he managed to get such an incredible picture.  He told me he just kept firing, taking multiple shots that were out of focus, before the one everyone saw.  When will I learn to pray like this?

    At no point do I feel like more of a failure than when I pray.  I am faced with God.  He sees through all my pretense, my beautiful language, and my excuses.  I find my prayer life to be more apology than conversation.  Little intimacy.  Little warmth.  Just searching for the right “shot,” editing my prayers as I go in order to say the right things to God.  I recently picked up a book by Paul E. Miller called “A Praying Life,” which challenged me to pray with childlike faith.  How do my children ask me for something?  RELENTLESSLY!

    Judah: “Daddy, can we wrestle now?”

    Me: “No buddy, not right now.”

    Judah: “Whyyyyyy?”

    Me:  “I am busy.”

    Judah:  “But I wanna wrestle!”  Pleeeeeez Daddy!!”

    He does not take “no” for an answer.  Sometimes I continue to say “no.” But… sometimes I give in and say “yes.”  Or, “yes, but later.”  He does not assess the situation and develop a request based on his chances of success.  Nor does He consider what I am doing.  There are only two things my kids think about when they make requests:  1.  I have need.  2.  Mommy and Daddy have the ability and care to meet that need.

    They do not “edit” their shots.  They take as many as possible with the hope of getting a good one in!  I am trying to learn this.  I don’t dream of limitless possibilities in prayer, I edit before I can dream!  Maybe the reason we struggle with constant dreaming distracting us from reality, is that we don’t see how the two can come together in prayer!  It is not my job to edit.  I just need to know the two things my kids know: 1.  I have need.  2.  My Father cares and has the power to meet that need!  It is His job to edit, my job to shoot away.  Miller challenged me with this statement; “Prayer is not a matter of discipline but dependence.”  I will NEVER come before God in strength or spiritual maturity.  I come to him in need, believing He is the only one who can meet it!  Childlike faith dreams.  Childlike faith believes.  Childlike faith is annoyingly relentless!  It is rare when others meet a need we have not expressed.  We feel embarrassed or weak when we express need.  Yet we often expect others to know our need, and even feel resentment when they don’t meet it.  Could it be that our disappointment with God and others is sometimes based on expecting Him to do things we have not asked for in the first place?   Father, teach me to fire away!

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