The internship is almost over. I'm flying back to Wisconsin on Halloween, which only gives me 26 days in Oregon. Several people have asked me what I have learned during this season. It is a difficult question to answer. God has taught me so much that I'm starting to forget it again.
I've learned a lot about prayer over the last five months. Prayer has become my primary means of making decisions, my first instinct in crisis, the way I start my day. The way I pray has changed and so have the reasons that I pray.
I used to pray out of obligation. As a kid I was taught to pray before eating. This led to a hasty "DearJesusthankyouforthisfoodanddayamen" before I starting shoving food into my mouth. As a teen, I chose to stop praying before meals because the insincerity felt more offensive to God than anything else. In prayer meeting at church, I would spend most of the time counting the times people said "Lord" in their prayers with tally marks on my hands. Some people got up to thirty in the same prayer! Imagine if we talked to each other like that. "Hi Jenna, How are you Jenna? And Jenna I saw that you're in Oregon, Jenna. Do you like it there, Jenna?" Through my high school and college years I wrote prayers in my journal. I tried to write daily, but that didn't always happen. Even when it did, I would spend my dutiful five minutes asking God for what I wanted and then ignore Him for the rest of the day.
It wasn't all bad, but I have learned immensely from working around the staff here at Crystal Peaks. I've never encountered as much prayer anywhere else. If there is a decision to be made, we stop, pray, listen, and do whatever the Holy Spirit instructs. That isn't to say there is always clear direction. But that leads to the next thing I am learning. Prayer really isn't about getting answers.
Prayer is a paradigm shift, a reminder that God is God and I am not, a surrender. If you look at prayer in the Bible (The Lord's Prayer, the Psalms, OT and NT prayers), prayer is a form of worship. Prayer is taking the pain, fear, and problems we experience and saying, "I can't control this, but You can and You do and I am recognizing that." I'm realizing that prayer is not about what I want from God, but what I can offer God. Prayer is getting up every morning and knowing that by the grace of God, I have another day of life. Praying is knowing that every breath I take is a gift, that every circumstance is under His control and my purpose in life is to worship with my thoughts, words, and actions. I'm getting back into the habit of praying before meals, because I trust God to provide the food and insulin I need to continue living.
If you're still with me, you're probably wondering what all this has to do with coffee.
God has taught me many different things about prayer, but it all started on May 30th. I love coffee. I drink coffee every morning and if I don't I get a killer headache. I brought coffee with me to Oregon, but it was all whole bean (I am a coffee snob, I admit it!). There was a coffee maker, but no grinder. At this time, I was alone in the boxcar, without a vehicle. I attempted to grind the beans by smashing them . . . yeah, that didn't work. So I prayed. I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was something like, "I know You are my only source of satisfaction, not coffee, but if it is Your will, I would really love a cup of coffee today." And then I went about my day. An hour or two later, a fellow intern texted me, asking if she could bring me a cup of coffee. I still can't believe it. It's amusing how much we pray without ever expecting our prayers to be answered.
The moral of the story is: The point of prayer isn't to get whatever you want, but prayer does change things, even little things like a cup of coffee.
My last point on prayer, is worship. Choosing to worship God whether my prayers seem answered or not, because He is God and he is good. Even if I never get my coffee, even if I don't have the medical equipment I need, even if my plans are ruined, even if I don't get the internship of my dreams, I still will praise Him.
As Job says, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him." (Job 13:15)