I'm scared of merging onto highways. From the time I was a teenager and first learning to drive until now, 18 years later, my knuckles get white and I have to stop any conversation going on in the car to concentrate while I pray, "Please, God, don't let me die!" It's pretty silly.
Now that I often have Allie in the backseat, my prayers become even more fervent, "Please, God, don't let Alexandra die!", which I noticed last night as I drove us back from a baby shower in Denver and repeatedly turned to prayer.
But driving home last night, I noticed a tendency I have when praying like this - a guilt creeps in and says, "You shouldn't only be coming to God with your requests and making God your genie." I've heard so many sermons on prayer and how we ought not turn God into our genie - only ever approaching him with our grocery list of requests and not also and first approaching him with praise and thanksgiving.
I think it's very true that our relationship with God shouldn't be one-dimensional; it shouldn't only be us asking and asking and asking for what we want. But now I realize that my brain has taken this advice and applied it to the extreme - feeling guilty for turning to God in prayer when I am scared and vulnerable.
Lately, I've been reading through the book of John in the Amplified version. Every time Jesus says "believe in me," which is a lot, the Amplified version also says "cleave to me." Every time I read "cleave to me," I think of the cover of some adventure/romance novel with a girl clinging to the chest of a Fabio-esque man and one leg popped behind her. I'm fairly sure this is not the exact image Jesus had in mind. But all the same, it's the picture that keeps flashing in my head each morning.
The covers of romance novels make me want to puke. But sometimes I think I could use a little more of the helpless heroine in me. I'm quick to be strong and independent and loath to be a clingy sap. But in prayer, we aren't strong and independent. In prayer, we are acknowledging our true state - in need and helpless before God.
And so many verses come flooding into my head about how God really does hear our prayers. "Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice." (Psalm 55:17)
David was far less scrupulous about making God a "genie" than he was simply desperate and in need and fell before God for help. That is who I want to be like. Not a strong, independent woman too proud to admit need, and not a legalistic Pharisee, stopping up prayer if not done in the "proper" way. I want to have hold of my true situation, in need of God at every turn in life. And so, I will keep my on-ramp prayers and maybe even pop one leg behind me.