>Puzzling Solutions and Playing Sudoku

>I confess it: I am a Sudoku fan. (Note: NOT addict.)

I’m a middle-of-the-road sort of Sudoku fan; I enjoy moderately difficult puzzles that can be worked in one sitting, or maybe two short ones. The easy puzzles pose no challenge, the really difficult ones can be more frustrating than fun.

There are often moments when I think, “I just don’t see the next move,” but if I take one more careful look, or even walk away from it for a time, I find one more answer. Then I pencil numbers into the remaining blocks as quickly as the clicking squence of falling dominoes.

This successive falling into place inevitably reminds me of the many times I find the solution to a puzzling writing problem. Perhaps I can’t think of a good opening for an article, or maybe I don’t see a theme in the piece I’m writing. I may pause for a moment or I may walk away from the work for days. But eventually, nearly always after prayer, the solution will come to me as suddenly as the over utilized light bulb blinking on simile. Then the disparate pieces of the work quickly fall into one cohesive effort.

I don’t mean to imply that prayer is a superstitious rite; as if saying a prayer automatically guarantees successful solutions to every writing (or any other kind of) problem. I confess to sometimes giving up on a difficult Sudoku puzzle and looking at the answer in the back for just one number. That clue is often enough to enable me to finish. There are rare times, however, when I just give up completely and go the next puzzle.

There are a few writing projects that, for whatever reason, aren’t meant to be finished. But there are many more that seem impossible until one specific insight is revealed and the puzzle is, as Peter Sellers playing Inspector Clouseau would say, “…solve-ed.”

Prayer isn’t a guarantee of success or a superstitious prerequisite, but it is a necessary part of addressing any problem. It is a part of life that is as necessary for the Christian as breathing.

It’s easy to pray for divine assistance when one is stuck in a tough place. But prayer is to be so much more in the life of a Christian. Question & Answer 116 of the Heidelberg Catechism tell us that Christians need to pray because “prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us. And also because God gives his grace and Holy Spirit only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly, asking God for these gifts and thanking him for them.”

Christian don’t merely send up what I call “Nehemiah prayers” in pressing moments of distress before a quick action or verbal response; they “pray continually” not only “asking God” for his gifts, but also “thanking him for them.”

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