Being rich among the very poor puts one in the odd position of being like God, in this way: as God has MORE than all of us, we have MORE than the very poor. Those who have LESS go to those who have MORE, so that they can get MORE of whatever is it they want or need. I wouldn't want to presume to know what God 'feels' like when billions of people ask him for 'goods' or 'services' each day. But, to the degree that I am godlike (made in God's image), a person blessed with abundant resources, is it possible I know a little what God feels like when dozens of people ask me for goods and services each day?
The Ik word wáán means 'beg'. It also means 'pray'. Hmm... Pray tell, what do begging and praying have to do with each other? Do you beg when you pray? Do I? The Ik word for 'visitor' is wáánam, which means 'begging person'. Hmm... Do you beg when you go visiting? The Ik do. Maybe you don't 'beg', but maybe when you visit someone, you are looking for something. Maybe it's just a listening ear.
When the Ik hear of our impending trip to this or that place for a certain amount of time, the letters and lists start coming. As the days dwindle before our departure, the little stack of requests grows. Here's a list like the kind we get:
Please sir, remember for me the following:
-money, for the children
Thank you sir for your assistance...
By the end of our stay in Ikland, I'm usually not in much of a mood to consider these lists. I mean, why would I bring you all these things when I barely even know you? You hear I'm going to 'Kampala' or 'my country' and you appear with a list? I don't even have a relationship with you. List goes in the trash bin. Sorry.
The other day I was in the spare bedroom praying my list of requests to God. A nice list, covering most areas of my life, certainly all the points of anxiety. Then it hit me: does God want my list, or does he want my relationship?
A few Ik come by just to greet us or spend a bit of time with us. Another precious few will occasionally confide in us about their problems without asking for anything more than a listening ear. I love that.
I decided that I would try something: instead of reading off my list of requests to God, I would just talk to God about my issues. If he wants to do anything about them, then great! If not, he's free! I know how free I feel when someone shares their concerns with me without asking for a solution or even hinting that I should provide one. Then I am free to offer help as I feel led.
There are many ways to pray, and I am certainly not saying I found the answer to prayer. I only wanted to share the perspective I've gained in recent months on the issue of wáán 'praying/begging'. If our personhood is like God's Personhood, then maybe God prefers our confidence and time to our lists, letters, and enumerations. I pray thee to consider!