Here I am, Lord. Here you are, Lord. Here we are together.
Who am I, Lord? Who are you, Lord? Who are we together?
These phrases, Brian McLaren suggests to readers of his Naked Spirituality, might be used as a sort of exercise to help us pray and center ourselves in the moment. They’re presented at the end of a chapter entitled “Here: Naming the Mystery” in which McLaren calls readers to acknowledge and name the mystery of God’s presence. The rest of the book takes things further, of course, but “Here” is simply about being, acknowledging, and resting in God who is present.
McLaren writes that the prayer helps him move from “here to who,” to focus on God and what God and he might do and be together.
When I first read the simple statements and questions, I smiled. I underlined. Then I grimaced a bit. Their simplicity and sing-songy nature remind me a bit too much of camp songs.
I’m reading Naked Spirituality for a book group with The Project F-M, so I was sure to ask what group members thought of the prayer. The consensus of group members seemed to be that while folks appreciated McLaren’s efforts, and understood the point, most were also suspicious of “camp theology” and cutesy phrases. The group did not exactly commit to use the phrases in their personal prayer time. In fact, they may not remember them at all now.
I get that. As I say, I had a similar reaction myself. But, even weeks after reading the phrase, I can’t seem to get them out of my head. In their simple, careful way, I find a profound claim and question.
Perhaps what continues to nag at me about the prayer is that in what is disguised as exceedingly simple claims and open-ended questions are really gigantic confessions of faith and questions of call. Hidden in these simple words are the big questions of being, questions about purpose, faithfulness, faith, and community.
The prayer is simple enough to memorize unintentionally, but complex enough to keep you wrestling for weeks. Camp-like or not, maybe I like it after all. –Adam J. Copeland