In the story of the wedding at Cana, the wine runs out and Mary says to Jesus, ‘They have no more wine.’ She does not give him any instructions about what he might do; she just presents the situation as it is.
Telling God what to do
Often, when we pray, we like to tell God what to do.
And there’s nothing wrong with this. Jesus says at one point in John’s gospel, ‘I will do whatever you ask in my name.’
But sometimes it feels not only more gracious but also more trusting to simply present to God whatever it is that is on our minds.
Telling it as it is
In Eavesdropping: learning to pray from those who talked to Jesus, Henry Martin says,
‘Mary simply brings a problem to Jesus and then leaves it with him. She offers no solutions, nor asks him to do anything. Her job is to alert Jesus and then trust that whatever he does next will be good…
Praying is often far more simple than we make it…Our ‘solutions’ could damage our praying. Sometimes we bring not only our problem to God, but also some quite specific directions for him, on his best way to proceed. Mary does not fall into this trap. She sees. She tells. She leaves the rest to him.’
A kind of See it - Say it – Sort it, if you like.
Martin goes on, ‘Mary could have taken charge and ordered her son to nip out and find more wine from whichever shops were open…but she already knows her son’s ability to think outside the box. She sees. She tells him. She trusts him…We miss out when we are too prescriptive with our solutions. God is free to answer us in ways far beyond our imagining. If we are so fixed just on our one outcome, we might fail to notice that God is answering our prayer…’
The worst prayers
Furthermore, if we need to come up with solutions, we might not pray at all. Especially in seemingly hopeless situations.
Martin says, ‘The worst prayers are those we never pray.’
Maybe there were no shops in Cana and no possible solution to the lack of wine at the wedding – but that did not stop Mary telling Jesus about the situation.
The answer to prayer is always joy and peace
And the end of the story is that – in an extraordinary miracle – Jesus turns water into wine and celebrations continue.
When we take our troubles to God – we too can trust that he will find a way to bring joy and peace – even in situations that, to us, seem impossible.