The Prayer Seeker
have left well alone. Perhaps the whole thing, this whole mission, if you like, not just
contacting an old friend, but the search for prayer, doing nothing but pleasing myself, has
been nothing more than an exercise in selfishness and an utter waste of time.”
By the time he finished, Michael was up and pacing the room in front of the window,
driven by an unexpected rage which thankfully didn’t last long.
“I’m sorry,” he said, sitting down again. “I didn’t mean to act like a child.”
Chris smiled and shook his head. “You don’t. Anger is as natural as joy; it’s what
you do with it that counts. But I think what you don’t necessarily see, Michael, is that
God isn’t to be found only in the peace you’re beginning to rediscover. He’s in the
confusion and the grief too. Nothing is outside His influence, and He uses all situations
and emotions to reach us, not only the easy ones. Have you opened up what’s going on in
your life at this very minute, right now, to God?”
Michael didn’t need to think through this one for any great length of time. “No, I
don’t believe I have.”
“Then let’s do that, together, while we’re sitting here,” said Chris.
His prayer was short and to the point, and afterwards Michael felt as if something
inside had altered, only a little but enough.
Later, at home, and for the first time in a long time, he began to pray about Alan, and
for him also, not so much in words, but in the direction of his thoughts, and the issues he
held in his mind before God. This was probably what he s hould have done in the first
place, rather than leap into following his own decisions so eagerly. He grimaced to
himself at that however; eagerness was not a trait he’d ever been accused of. He’d known
passion yes, particularly when it came to his ex-wife. But eagerness? No, not that. He
should have been warned.
Still, thoughts of Alan layered his mind and he found himself deliberately and
carefully bringing God into his memories and his hopes. He remembered Alan’s humour
and his support in the brief time they’d known each other; he remembered once more
how they had parted and his own role in that. Finally, he laid his knowledge of the other
man’s life now out in his thoughts as he prayed, as if laying a table for a guest he couldn’t
yet see: Alan’s teaching job; his art; his home; his partner.
All this lasted, sometimes intermittently and sometimes with more focused
commitment, over a period of three days. Finally, everything was swallowed up in
silence, but a silence that was warm and reassuring and full.
On that day, in the afternoon as Michael was considering whether the lawn needed
mowing or whether he could simply enjoy the sunshine, the telephone rang. As if it
always had been intended so, and he was doing nothing more pleasurable than waiting for
this moment. This time, he knew who it would be even before the caller spoke.
“Hello, Alan,” he said.