Rear Deraillleurs and Prayers
I am not talking about the prayer of a cyclist as they approach some climb stuck in the wrong gear, though I have been there too. I am writing about how cyclists who don’t know how to maintain their bikes are weirdly like Christians that struggle to pray.
Basically everyone that has ever tried to bike regularly on a bike with more than a single gear has encountered the endless noises and aggravations of derailleur malfunction (and for many men the shame of not intuitively knowing how to fix them). Here is how one website describes it:
The derailleur’s job is to move the chain up and down the cogs in your cassette. The limit screws tell the derailleur when to stop, so your chain doesn’t fall into the spokes or off the smallest cog and into the dropout of your frame. If you are having issues shifting into the smallest or largest cog in your cassette or if your chain is falling off the cassette, you will need to check your limit screw settings.
When adjusting limit screws, tightening (clockwise) the screws will always restrict movement of the chain outward and loosening the limit screw (counterclockwise) will allow the chain to move farther outward toward the spokes or dropout (from Liv bikes).
Great! Now we are all confident we can fix the skipping chain or the non-gear changing hassle, right???
Of course not. The only way to get any good at this is to practice it, and to do so over and over again; there is simply no substitute.
Just so, we can read about prayer or listen to others talk about it (trust me the videos of fixing the derailleurs, while helpful, still require a lot of patience and humility) until the proverbial cows come home, but we will be no closer to being able to pray, to enjoy God’s very presence, than we are to having our bikes run smoothly. Many of us will feel shame about this, we know we should be able to do it, we just struggle to make the time to master it.
Here’s the thing though, if I take a bike to a bike shop to fix a derailleur they sort of laugh at me and say I shouldn’t need their help for this. It is the intention of many cyclists I know to learn how to take care of this sort of minor issue, the keyword is goal. Similarly, many people ask me to pray, at meals, at meetings, whatever, partly this is my role in society, like the bike mechanic has their role as well, but partly it is based on discomfort or self-perceived inability on the part of the asker. Sometimes (worship services, hospital rooms, weddings, funerals etc.) I am happy to be the “official pray-er” but when I am at your house for friendship and a meal and grace needs saying before we eat…well you can handle that.
Like all those cyclist not learning/practice how to do basic maintenance many Christians are not learning/practicing prayer.
In both cases this is a shame because there is freedom and power in the sort of independence a cyclist gets when they only need the bike shop for the hardest jobs (like they are far less likely to get stuck while out on a ride etc.), and there is freedom and independence (or well, dependence on Jesus) when the christian learns to pray (they are more resilient when life happens to them, ready to pray with joy or sorrow, the bible calls us to prayer, etc.).
Basically what I am saying is that today is a day to go pray, I need to learn how to fix a derailleur (and it may take me a while:)