I used to be a person who would promise to pray for others but never do it.
I used to be a person who enjoyed fiery prayers at church but let the steam dissipate after I left the building.
I used to be a person convinced that truly effective and powerful prayer was mysterious and mystical, even.
I used to be a person so certain prayers offered simply and honestly were not enough.
I used to be a person who claimed to understand the power of prayer and yet I rarely did it.
I used to be a person who secretly had low expectations but couldn’t admit it or ask for help.
I used to be a person who assumed loud and animated prayers, especially in other tongues, only flowed from the lips of deeply spiritual Christians.
I used to be a person who, with great intentions and effort, attempted to follow formulas.
I used to be a person who periodically gave up on prayer as my sense of failure and “not enough” came to rest heavy against my heart.
I still can be.
Much less than before.
I don’t take things for granted.
I don’t assume the dancing, crying, hand-raising person knows Jesus the best.
My core longs for authenticity. In ways I can barely explain.
And I am one of the dancing, crying, hand-raising people.
But I know it’s not enough.
I know myself. I know when external worship is going through the motions.
I won’t do it.
I stopped caring a long time ago if others judged me too religious or foolish for expressing my worship openly.
And now I care even less if I’m judged deep and Jesus-abiding because of how I present myself.
I can present myself any way I want at any given time.
Jesus is so much more to me now than He used to be. So much so that I can’t be satisfied with the good opinions that come from high-fluency.
He deserves more than that from me.
Who cares how I present myself if it’s not real?
My girls have been sick with a virus this week. Today everyone felt well so we went out for errands and lunch. As I drove I thought about my husband.
This man I love.
This person I continue to know. Continue to discover.
This one who knows my buttons. Has broken my heart apart.
Has made me proud.
Has repeatedly sought after healing by my side.
This man I’ve misunderstood. Overestimated. Underestimated.
Father of my children. Daddy to my daughters.
I know what I know. And now I know there is so much I don’t yet know.
But I’m listening more. Watching closely.
I know that God uses us to press one another.
Closer to the truth.
And so I know the absolute power of prayer.
I found out in the midst of weakness and hopelessness and grief. All of the places I thought good Christians never go.
The most powerful prayers of my life seem to be the most broken, humble and desperate ones I utter.
There is a loss of myself in them. A need…a hope…a giving up and out of all I’m trying to be and all that I’m not.
Several years ago, before I resigned from nursing, God began to challenge my heart to pray with my patients. I was scared to death. And yet I needed more than what I had. What I knew.
I waited until my shift was almost over so the person had a chance to be around me a little while. So they knew when I offered I wasn’t crazy.
Only once did someone say no.
Every time I whispered a few words of hope and healing and love I knew. This is what matters.
None of the rest matters if I can’t be this.
It’s just as scary to sit beside your spouse. Breath-holding moments when need outweighs pride and hope outweighs opinion.
Only His opinion matters.
So you stop thinking it through. Stop saying the same things you’ve said all of your life because that is “praying.”
Open your mouth and say your most honest words to God. In front of this person. With this person. For this person.
He fills these moments. So much so walls come down. Pride crumbles. Peace pours over. Life shifts a little.
These are the moments I know that I am who I am.
And I’m not what I’m not.
But Jesus is everything.
There is no greater thing I can imagine or offer on this earth to show love and care, to heal, than saying honest words to God.