A Planet in Active Labor

Today the world already feels too full of words for me to add mine to the noise of any one subject.
Well, maybe one.
Jesus told us that the beginning of the end of the age would be like the beginning of birth pangs when a woman is in labor.
During that stage, early labor, even though there is pain, there is also excitement, anticipation, and rational thought. Bags can be packed, relatives called, lists made, and other children distributed to caregivers all the while the pangs are coming at a steady but bearable rate.
there comes a time, active labor, when the pains intensify, come so close together there is little time for rest or reprieve in between
the focus remains on the mother enduring, how is she, does she need something, rub a back, inject painkiller, cool a forehead, yes, this hard, yes, this is painful, you’re doing great, it won’t be long.
then there is a time, transition, when rational thought flies out the window, the woman in labor travels to a place out of reach, a place of pain so anguished and deep that she is alone, even surrounded by those who love her most,
make it stop, make it stop, why isn’t it happening, I can’t do this, be born, be born, someone end this, someone end this, why am I here, too much, too much,
and then all attention is on the child – will he survive, will she emerge whole and breathing, can she take the pressure of the mother’s efforts to eject her from the womb, is he whole, is he alive
the mother is secondary now, a vessel, a means to an end, a channel for new life.
She hears the command to push
and in this place, there is only silence or screaming or sounds heard in no other place and everyone in the rooms feels how little they contribute to the process, how big this moment is, how beyond them, how much in the hands of a higher power
this process of creating and delivering new life.
And when the child emerges, there is silence – a moment – as all await that first cry, the infant “Yes!” I have arrived and am alive and whole and worth every pain I just caused in order to exist in the universe.
As I read my Bible today beside the screaming headlines on my news ticker, I’m stricken with the notion that the planet is entering active labor. Early birth pangs are behind us but now, the business of this planet’s relationship with God is heavy upon us.
Bombs in Israel, unfaithful generals, fiscal cliffs, compassion fatigue, some children starving or being sold into sexual slavery while others cannot grasp the concept of gratitude or personal responsibility, people reacting with more passion to the loss of Twinkies and HoHo’s than the loss of lives in hurricanes and foreign embassies.
And every pulpit, every Facebook status, every tweet, every car bumper and website proclaim this verse from 2 Chronicles 7: 13-15 :  
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,  if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”
But tweeting is not praying. Preaching is not praying. Liking status’s and pasting bumper stickers is not praying. Blogging is not praying. Reading blog posts is not praying.
Praying is praying.
Turning from wickedness is repentance and change.
The chief focus of a woman in active labor and then in transition is breathing.
The chief focus of a planet in active labor and into transition is prayer, which is spiritual breathing.
I’ll confess that I sometimes lose my energy in prayer, my stamina, my discipline. I get frustrated and bored praying the same thing over and over but that’s because my prayers become myopic and praying for the world beyond my doorstep seems so theoretical it gets lost in my requests for daily bread.
I’m still so polluted by my culture that without rapid and visible results, my resolve crumbles and clam up on God.
I confess I need to recommit to prayer. If you’re a regular reader, you can tell from my posts if I’m praying or running on my own steam. It’s like writing without oxygen.
So, let’s not just talk about praying. Let us pray.
Even with Thanksgiving upon us, we can sacrifice something somewhere to make time to pray. This week, I’ll shut off talk radio to pray in my car, forgo lunch with my colleagues to pray at lunch, and switch off the evening news to pray then in addition to my usual time in prayer.
How about you? Can you commit time this week to pray? Will you commit to it in front of other readers? What scripture passages do you use in prayer? What formal prayers inspire your words when you run out of your own?
Are you ready to help the planet by breathing for it through its labor?
I do believe that early labor is ending and we are entering the active labor phase. If we haven’t learned to breath by transition, well, the time will have past for learning.
Praying, like breathing during labor, harnesses pain into energy. Energy to birth new life that will be worth every labor in the end. What say you all?
Here is one of my personal resources for daily prayers:

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    The Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow! I, too, believe we are in the final stages of labor. Things are hitting us hard and heavy and it’s no longer “over there” it’s right here on the street where we live. The wonder of it all is that once the labor is over, the pain is all forgotten when the results are a new life, healthy and full of promise. So it will be for those who labor through these last days and continue to pray through the pain. MOMMA

  2. Amen, friend. Though I’m not sure whether to applaud or cringe with conviction. 🙂

    The term “prayer warrior” comes to mind. That doesn’t exactly imply a simple, passive, or easy process, either.

  3. I’ve waxed and waned in the prayer department more times than I care to recall. I totally agree with you about living on a planet in active labor.

    There has been one thing that has kept me fired up when it comes to prayer–praying God’s word back to Him. One particular place that I pray on this very subject you’ve brought up is Psalms 96, 97 and 110. These anchor me in the truth that the Lord is the One who will bring to fruition what He began.

  4. Pam says:

    Thank you, Lori, for this VERY challenging post, your transparency and your call to prayer for us all.

    “But tweeting is not praying. Preaching is not praying. Liking status’s and pasting bumper stickers is not praying. Blogging is not praying. Reading blog posts is not praying.

    Praying is praying.” AMEN!!

  5. A conversation last evening with a CT friend. An articulate and insightful recap this morning by you. The message is pressing itself home. Thank you and please continue.

  6. I understand about prayer for the world seeming far off sometimes, or even often. Even answering a prayer request from one of the many groups I belong to (pray for my sister in law with breast cancer). My prayer is heartfelt, earnest but still sometimes distant.

    But when the winds of hurricane Sandy howled outside my house to a roaring, I got my Bible out and my flashlight, as we had no power. I stayed up all night and knew how to pray. I prayed fervently. I prayed with everything in me. I prayed for everything that is legally mine under the Word of God, down to the birds and squirrels we feed in our back yard. And we were spared, except for some small water damage. Whereas our neighbor had to pump out his basement and he’s got the same exact layout as we do facing the south (with the Atlantic about 3/4 – 1 mile away).

    I wrote about this on Facebook and when I read what I’d posted felt a little selfish. But what I wrote was absolutely true. When the winds were ripping up trees two blocks away, and there was a high pitched whining sound in the air, I prayed “Oh, God, help me. Keep my family and home safe.” And He did.