The anticipation our new sermon series on superheroes has prompted me to reminisce about one of my favorite shows from my childhood, Batman and Robin. The typical story began with a villain such as The Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, or the Mad Hatter, committing a crime. This was followed by a scene inside Commissioner Gordon’s office, where he and Chief O’Hara would deduce which villain was responsible. After being summoned to Commissioner Gordon’s office via the Bat phone, the investigation usually resulted in Batman and Robin meeting with the villain. Then the heroes would engage in a fistfight with the villain’s henchmen, and he or she would capture one or both of the heroes and place them in a deathtrap leading to a cliffhanger ending. In the next episode, Batman and Robin would escape within seconds of their doom.
As a little girl I often wondered how they survived in those death traps and how they always made it out. Did they pray their way out? My guess is that most of us take our prayer lives more seriously when we are trying to “pray our way out.” When we’re rushing to get to an appointment that we are already late for and we don’t notice the traffic cop’s car until we’ve whizzed halfway past it, it’s time to “pray our way out.” When life hits a skid and situations arise that may cause pain or fear, anger or hardship, we pray to God for help in getting us out of the mess we’ve landed in.
But there is another kind of attitude we can take in prayer. Instead of floundering around for an escape hatch, instead of praying our way out, we can “pray our way in” to God’s plan for our lives. Much of life is beyond our control. Why don’t we trust God’s plan and pray our way in to a surrendered life? Prayer is more than praying our way out of trouble; it is praying ourselves into the will of God. This prayer from Thomas Merton, a 20th Century writer, mystic and Trappist monk gives us new words to pray ourselves into who God would have us become.
O Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going,
I do not see the road ahead of me,
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
And that fact that I think
I am following Your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe
That the desire to please You
Does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire
In all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire to please You.
And I know that if I do this
You will lead me by the right road,
Though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always
Though I may seem to be lost
And in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
For You are ever with me,
And You will never leave me
To make my journey alone.
Nancy Pauls –Pastor of Prayer