I remember as a kid, my mom and dad reading me a book about Mumford the Magnificent, one of my favorite sesame street characters. In the book, he tries to remember the magic words to make his trick works. Ever feel like you’re doing that when you pray? Trying to find the right words to convey your message to God, as if he didn’t already know your heart?
My dad and I were watching a program one night, and the preacher was talking about “Stupid Prayers”. He said they start with “Lord, Aunt Mary is in the Hospital”… Duh!! God knows that she’s in the hospital!! I know that it isn’t actually a “Stupid Prayer”, but at the time, it sure gave us a chuckle. Now, whenever I pray, I find myself thinking about that. And about 1,001 other things. Have you ever To-Do list prayed? Sadly, this happens to me more then I’d like to admit. If you don’t know what a “To-Do List” prayer is, let me give you an example.
In the beginning of September, The Hubs and I set out to give our thrift store a make over. This thrift store actually funds our winter emergency shelter, and the funds weren’t exactly where we needed them to be. The night before we started, I was very specific in my prayers, praying for each of the volunteers and staff, knowing that change is hard for some people, and praying for specific changes we needed to make. This reminded me of something I needed to pick up for the makeover. THAT reminded me that I had a movie that needed to be returned in the same mall. Then I wondered when I’d find time to do that, and wondered what the Hubs’ schedule was like, and if he could pick it up. But maybe he has a Dr’s appointment. I have to pick up some meds, I wonder if when Walmart opens here, their prescription prices will be cheaper. I hope it opens before Christmas because I need to do some Christmas shopping. Oh wait!! I was praying!!!
Or how about the “Barter” prayer? My soul, my flaws, my mistakes, my hurts my hang ups can all be Yours, Lord, for the low low price of getting me out of this jam. I’m guilty of this one too. Especially over the last 2 years while The Hubs has been in and out of the hospital, surgery, stress tests, scary words like heart attack floating around. I’ve bartered. I’ve begged!
Do you know this one? Or the “Genie” prayer? Lord, I want _______. I’ve been good, I’ve followed Your path for my life, I want _____ and infinity other wishes.
One of my biggest fears is being asked to pray in public. Its a pretty commonly known fact. When I was working in Toronto, my boss and I had a code. I would tap her shoe with my foot and she would pray. The hubs and I have a deal that I probably shouldn’t admit on here lest it blow my cover. Because our names are so similar, the deal is if someone asks me to pray, he’ll do it, and then later on we’ll play it off as if we just misheard. Don’t hear what I’m not saying (not bad, right my southern peeps?) If a person came to me and said “I need you to pray with me”, I’m there. All over it. But in front of everyone? No dice.
The hubs asked me a few weeks back what it was that made me anxious of it. The truth? I’m worried I wont say the right thing. That I will have missed an important part of what was said and pray for the wrong thing, or that my prayer wont measure up to someone else’s prayer. That I’ll flip into To-Do prayer mode, right there in front of everyone! What if I forget something that I was supposed to pray for?
Growing up as a pastors kid, spending roughly 1,664 Days at Church, not including special occasions, meetings, kids groups etc. etc. etc. I’ve heard people pray. I’ve heard some incredible prayers. But when it comes down to me, sharing my heart like that… the words just don’t come.
I carry a notebook in my bag, put it on my nightstand at bedtime, keep it next to me while sitting on the couch watching TV. In it I write down peoples prayer requests as they share them. During Prayer time on Sunday mornings, while scrolling through Facebook, talking to friends… as they mention it, I jot it down and then when I find quite space, quite time, I take out my notebook and pray.
I start each day, each prayer, each task asking God to help me focus, to give me the attention to detail needed for what I’m facing.
I’m learning to be comfortable with not having the words. God knows my heart. My fears, my joys, my thankful moments, He knows them. When I pray , when I don’t know what to say, He knows what’s in my heart when I can’t find the words.
Its a work in progress.