There are two fundament part to our prayers—bulbs and flowers, and together they help us on our journey of faith.
The bulb (or root) to every prayer is God. It is that part of the prayer, usually the opening sentence, that says something about God. It is like a child’s story, on the one hand familiar and comforting, on the other, a revelation. We generally agree that God knows everything; if so, then God knows everything about God. The opening part of our prayers won’t tell God anything, but it will sure up our confidence in the bulb of our faith.
The main part of our prayer, the petition, the thing we are praying for or about, is a bud. It could be about anything, I suppose. We shy away from selfish and vengeful petitions. We tend to pray for health, happiness and peace for ourselves and others.
It is a bit audacious (if I can call taking bold risks “a bit”), for us to pray for others. But we do, and I think we can’t help ourselves. It seem so very human to pray for other people, for their health, happiness and peace.
There is a hymn that says in very bulb there is a flower. In the bulb of our prayer is a flower, but the blooming is not an answered prayer, it is a new or reformed relationship.
The change that is brought about in prayer is usually in the one who prays. My prayer changes me. Your prayer changes you. The benefits of prayer are felt most keenly when relationship are formed or reformed. The prayer that is rooted in God blooms all the more sweetly when the newness of life is felt in human relationships.
Prayer books ought to come with warning labels, “Danger: the contents may change you.” If you don’t what change, if you don’t want health, happiness and peace—then run as far away from a prayer book or prayer gathering as you possibly can.
I’m tempted to carry this metaphor even further by saying things like, “prayers are sometimes watered with our tears.” But them someone might ask, “Okay, smart guy, then what fertilizes out prayers?” Instead, I just remind everyone that everything that informs our prayers—our hopes and pains, our joys and sorrows—is “something God alone can see.” And I’m cool with that!