It was during a very stressful time that I received the mug that you see in the picture below. At that time, my prayer and facial expression were pretty much the same as what is painted on its surface: eyes crossed, mouth in a grimace while muttering the words, “Now what?”
It seems what is depicted is someone who is bracing for ugliness or an unpleasant experience. Do you ever feel that way? You pray, but, you just know the next occurrence in your life will not be something you will enjoy. So you utter with gritted teeth, “Now what?”
I have found this prayer is in fact one of the best means to start a conversation with God, although without the grimace and crossed eyes.
“Now what?” is often my prayer when I wake. I ask, “Now what, God? What do you wish for me to do today? Where will you send me?” The prayer is simple and to the point: Now what? I expect each day that I will be heard and guided.
Ideally, prayer is not just uttering a catalog of my discontent, worries and desires. It is listening intentionally and responding to the words I hear after my utterances. Prayer is conversation between myself and the divine.
“Now what?” was the prayer I uttered over a year ago when it became clear my work as a pastor was at an end. “Now what do I do? Now what, God?” I listened for an answer. God seemed to be quiet for a long time. So, I followed openings and prayed, “Is this what you would have me to do?” Each time, I heard a quiet, “No.”
“Now what, God?” remained my constant prayer. Awaiting clear understanding, I was uncomfortable, not at peace. The only thing I could do was continue waiting in the stillness and silence of prayer. I held an attitude of waiting, listening and trusting that at the right time I would hear, “This is the way you will go.”
There seemed to be some irony that the organization to which I have been led, Friends United Meeting, was asking the same question: “Now what, God?” As I had been, FUM is waiting, seeking to hear what God desires and wishing to respond with obedience. Pursuant to this goal, Friends United Meeting has initiated 40 Days of Prayer, urging Friends united to open many conversations with God, to collectively seek an answer to this query.
The issue of Quaker Life you hold is composed of articles from individuals who have asked, “Now what?” Each of them desired to hear; each wished to respond obediently. All joined a conversation with God.
In this issue you will read of experiences that may or may not speak to you. Each writer has related his or her own experience. Yours may be different or very similar. Whatever the case, it is my hope that as you read you will be compelled to further explore how to converse with our guide and how to experience the power, grace and love that accompanies a conversation with God.
I also pray you will participate in the 40 Days of Prayer and join thousands who are listening, hearing and responding to the One who cares for and guides us all.
Let me know what blessed you or gave you concern in this issue. Let us be in conversation together as well.