It is certainly something I already knew,
but isn't that the way of epiphany?
Something you know in your head
is suddenly known in your heart.
That is how it has been for me, connecting prayer to food.
Man cannot live by bread alone.
Jesus is the Bread of Life.
Prayer is food.
Let me explain.
When we were in Seattle two summers ago, we ate at a place called Sweet Iron. I ordered a waffle with goat cheese, honey, and hazelnuts. I had never had anything like it before. It is the most delectable meal I have ever eaten. I still think about that breakfast. My mouth waters. Plenty of the kids on the trip thought it was a strange combination, and I am not sure what made me choose it. But I did, and I am so very glad I did.
Once, Corey took me to dinner at an upscale restaurant and I ordered lobster bisque. It was glorious. I have ordered lobster bisque since then, but it has never tasted so divine as that bowl of thick warmth from Huntington's in Ridgeland Mississippi. I don't remember anything else I ate during that meal. The soup was what mattered.
One more. When a friend got married last year, I had been skipping desserts in an attempt to lose weight, and a month of no sweets sure made that wedding cake extra marvelous. I'm telling you, me and that caramel cake were joined as one. I made out with that frosting. And I don't normally love frosting. Or caramel cake. But holy sugar high, Batman, that may be the best cake-eating experience of my entire life.
Three meals. Three very distinct memories.
But I can't eat those foods every day. If I were to eat that waffle every morning, it would cease to be quite so amazing. The bisque would become normal. The cake would be expected.
Likewise, there have been experiences…
Once, I felt God moving so close I had to dance. David and I danced in the woods behind a park in Brandon Mississippi. The Spirit was there in the trees, all around me. I can remember that lightness, that joy. I wish I could go back. I did go back there, physically, but I never stumbled into Jesus in quite that way again.
There was a retreat to the Gray Center with a group of women from my church and other churches. Some of us knew one another and some were strangers. By the end of the weekend, we were family. We danced a labyrinth together in the dark of night. We shared our mother stories. We cried and laughed and Jesus was there. He didn't look like I thought He would, but He was there.
Once, I was caught up in desperate prayer and found myself crumpled on the closet floor, poetry spilling out of my soul, tears on my cheeks, Truth seared through me so hard it left marks. I'll never forget that night, that feeling.
But these things do not happen everyday. If they did, how would life happen?
How could I raise my children or do the work Jesus has called me to if I were every moment caught up in religious ecstasy?
Prayer is food.
I have to eat. Everyday. I have to have fuel or my body will not move. It will not run. It will die. And so, I eat. Sometimes, I eat waffles that make my mouth water for years to come. Sometimes, I eat lobster bisque, warm and thick and perfect. Sometimes I make out with wedding cake on a hot summer day.
And sometimes I eat a sandwich with extra pickles or a cream cheese danish or a salad and a banana. All good. But not meals I will remember when years have passed. Heck, I may not remember them in a few days. What did I have for lunch last Wednesday? I have no idea.
But if I were to quit eating these unmemorable meals, what would happen?
I would die.
I cannot live on a life-changing waffle once every three years.
And, likewise, I cannot live spiritually on chance encounters with the Divine. When they come, I celebrate. I bask in His glory. I cannot get enough of Him.
But the other prayers must happen.
They are my breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
They are my daily bread.
Sometimes, they feel rote. I am just repeating words. Sometimes, they feel paltry. I want to have more to give. Sometimes, they feel desperate and sometimes empty and sometimes overly full. Sometimes they bring a word from Jesus, a moment's peace, a whispered assurance, and sometimes they are forgotten in a minute or an hour.
But they sustain.
Without them, my soul would die. I would not be receptive to the ecstasy that sometimes comes.
If eating were not a habit, I would not have eaten that waffle in Seattle, and if prayer were not a habit, I would not have heard the Spirit in the woods amid the trees.
Prayer is food.
I will eat.