Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Flashing or Occulting Prayer Life?

During the summer, we had the chance to spend some time at my in-laws cottage in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. From their deck which faces toward the water (a bay in the Les Chenaux Islands), you can see a marker buoy straight-away in the distance. At night, you can see the buoy's location by its' flashing light.

I happened to find out a little more about marker buoys this summer. Turns out that there are basically two different types of buoys which display a light at night. One type is the kind in front of my in-laws' place. It is a buoy that displays a light very briefly and then remains dark otherwise (i.e. 1 second of light, 5 seconds of darkness).

This is a flashing buoy. The other kind is an occulting buoy. No, this doesn't have anything to do with the occult (i.e. sorcery, etc). It is based on the fact that occulting means "darkening". That type of buoy will remain lit with brief moments of the light going dark (i.e. 5 seconds of light; 1 second of darkness).

The reason that I bring this up is that this type of arrangement for the lighting of a buoy reminds me of the type of prayer lives we can display before God. Do we stay "dark" most of the time with a little bit of a brilliant prayer life? Or is our life manifest by ongoing prayer with few times that we "go dark"? I am learning that our prayer lives don't need to be confined to only specific times in the day. We need to cultivate an attitude of prayer in which we are more and more sensing the presence of God and able to communicate to Him in pray even beyond our usual times with him. My pastor raised a good example of this several years ago. He mentioned that while driving through a very rundown section of the Detroit area, my pastor instantly "lit up' in prayer to ask God what His thoughts were concerning the human condition in this part of town.

Does our light in prayer continue to shine or is God waiting for it to briefly light up in the darkness?

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