Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple


21 Ways to Pray: Stargazing, Dark Matter and Looking Beyond, to God

posted by Mark Herringshaw

We live in a weird universe. Only 5% of the “stuff” out there is familiar to us: stars, atoms, planets, the coffee I’m drinking this morning, all that. 70% is thought to be what scientists call “dark energy,” something we know virtually nothing about but conclude must exist as a force pulling and pushing the universe into expansion. The remaining 25% is called “dark matter” or WIMPS – “Weakly Interacting Massive Particles.” Scientists have never seen WIMPs but they know they must be out there because they’ve observed their gravitational pull.

WIMPs however neither emit nor absorb light, so they are almost impossible to track and scientists have never seen any evidence of WIMPs. Until now… maybe. This week physicists reported two events that could be “WIMPs” striking a detector buried half a mile deep in a Minnesota iron mine. They need more data to be certain, but they believe they’ve captured evidence of the mysterious matter.

I’m no physicist, but these kinds of discoveries fascinate me. I don’t chase elusive matter and invisible energy, but I do long to catch sight of the Force behind all forces. I want to know God. And the curiosity and tenacity of these cosmological detectives inspires me to look for the Mystery behind and beyond the world.

Some of my most profound times of prayer have come gazing out into a clear night sky, when I’m far from the light pollution of the city where I live. Knowing that I’m looking at light produced years, sometimes millions of years into the past and that what I see with my eyes is not even fraction-able of what is actually out there, sets my mind reeling. At those times I feel small and momentary and insignificant, and God seems vast and mysterious and far away.

Looking into the expanse of a night sky or looking down and pondering dark matter, or probing the hidden mysteries buried in my own soul and hearts of those I love are all the same adventure: we’re looking for a connection with God, the ONE behind all else. (This is something I explore in my book, Nine Ways God Always Speaks.)

The wonder is that while we’re welcome to explore these places and learn all we can, we never find God   in this way. Yes, we see evidence of his passing by, in beauty and design and order, the way physicists see these footprints of WIMPS left behind in their instruments. But we can’t KNOW God this way.

The truth is, I can never find God. Instead, he finds me. He comes looking to discover my elusive, rebellious soul. God comes in Jesus into the dark mine of this little world probing for my presence. I’m the dark matter in God’s creation, and he has to devise a very creative, surprising means to capture my heart. He has: It’s called Christmas. Here God came down from out beyond the stars, from up behind the dark matter and dark energy of his mysterious universe and became accessible and close and intimate. He did this because he wants to be known and touched and loved and more than that, love.

I can pray when I look out into the sky and down into the depths of the earth, in a mine they are using to see the unseeable. But those outward, downward, probing prayers only serve to bring me to a quiet place, to the ultimate futility of my searching and to a place where I finally sit still long enough to be discovered by God. He’s the one looking. He’s the subject and I’m the object And in this, he always succeeds in his quest. He finds me!

Check out the other “21 Ways to Pray” in a special Beliefnet devotional I’ve written. And as always, feel free to add in your own perspectives.



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