Friday, May 10, 2013

Can Such Expectant Prayer Be Fun?

Can praying be fun?

Some friends e-mailed me this morning with their exciting news:  they're going to be first-time parents!

(They know I don't live on my cell phone, so they know an e-mail with this type of news doesn't offend me in the least.  And I'm flattered that they wanted to tell me privately before their announcement becomes public.)

We e-mailed back and forth for a bit, and when it came to praying for their pregnancy, I replied that these are "fun" types of prayers.

Which, of course, is true, right?  I mean, the miracle of creating a human being is a time for thanksgiving, wonder, and joy.  Trusting that the same Providence Who ordained the beginning of this new little life will, in the course of ordinary biology, see it safely through these next nine months is an affirmation of God's sovereignty and His own good pleasure, is it not?  And we're talking about "pleasure" in a resoundingly positive sense of the term, not just "pleasure" as in "will."

Plus, knowing these two as I do, I see no reason to doubt that they'll make excellent parents.  They're exceptionally Godly people, grounded in His Word, and less concerned with what other people think than what He thinks.  Do you know how, when some of your friends announce their pregnancy, there's a catch - however slight - in your response?  And then you know how, when other friends announce their pregnancy, there's absolutely no reason you can think of for not breaking into a big grin, sharing unequivocally in their happiness?

This isn't the former with my friends, but the latter.

Okay, so maybe it's a judgement call on these things.  And I realize there's a need to be sensitive on this topic.  But seriously, in real life, some people bring more baggage into pregnancy than others.  Shucks - I sure would, don't you think?  That's just the way life is.  But what's wrong when we're presented with news that, for the particular people involved, doesn't seem to have any down side?

In these types of things, praying for them is rather fun, is it not?  Sure, we pray for the health of the baby, its mother, and even its father; their spiritual preparedness for parenthood, and the financial and logistical arrangements that need to be made.  However, unless we have particular reason for concern, our prayers can be mostly optimistic and buoyantly anticipatory.  Of course, I say that as a never-married male who's never had to go through morning sickness and all of the other physical impacts of carrying around a developing being in my belly.

I also say that as a person who, for whatever reason, seems to spend most of his prayer life interceding on behalf of people facing genuine trials, difficulties, dilemmas, and despair.  Even for myself, I pray mostly for something to heal, change, improve, or some other form of bad-to-good scenario.  It seems odd to be able to pray for something that's good all the way around, like somebody's new pregnancy.

Can you think of anything within our "mortal coil" here on Earth that compares with joining in prayer for all that is good, right, and even holy about another new human life coming to share this world with us?  Just because pregnancy is common, let's not take it for granted!  Perhaps getting a new job, or getting married, can come pretty close, but those events aren't in the same league, and usually mean somebody else wasn't selected.  Meanwhile, preparing for new life created "from scratch," as it were, remains a pretty singular event.

Indeed, the prospect of all those dirty diapers and sleepless nights can wait for a while!  I'm told that stuff ends up going past in a blur anyway.

The term "fun" has become almost trivialized in our modern culture.  Fun is something we seek, and practically consider something to which we're somehow entitled.  On the other hand, it's a sort of raw, unadulterated fun being able to join in praise to God for the miracle of new life He's bestowing upon a couple of people who love Him and seek His honor.

There's a reason most cultures on our planet view these next nine months my friends will experience as part of some prized, almost sacred season.  Humanists claim it's simply our emotions and bodies reacting to a basic biological function.  Believers in Christ, on the other hand, know this is a tangible representation of the miracles God works for His glory and our good all the time.

Unfortunately, at least for us, and not necessarily through any fault of our own, not every pregnancy is infused with so much joy.  Indeed, even infertility can haunt marriage.  But for those whose next nine months has been so ordained by our Creator to fit His normative design for us, how can it not be good to find fun in praying for them?

After the nine months is up, of course, the real prayer work will begin!

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