Saturday, December 5, 2015

When Prayer's Gotten Complicated

Lately I've been noticing, "I didn't pray much today." What in the world? I have lots of challenges I could use a little (or a lot) of help with, so this isn't good. But then I think about starting I feel overwhelmed. (Almost everything overwhelms me right now.) Where do I even start? I'm all over the place. 

Then one of the kids offered a blessing. It was simple, the same as the last time and the time before that and rather than thinking I'd do something much more original if it was my turn, I wondered if that wasn't my problem. Prayer isn't a performance. It's chit chat. It's desperate calls for help. It's venting. And yes, when I try to express how I love Brian, sometimes I say things that sound nicer than others but mostly, I think he likes me to say all the things between the eloquent things. 

So I decided to rewind a bit in my prayer evolution and came up with this. 

Jesus, 

Help me be a better person.
Help us pay our debt.
Help our family be a light.
Help my body make a comeback.
I love you.

I need help with these things. When I'm feeling energetic, maybe I'll expound on each topic, but for now, I've got SOMETHING. Something's not perfect and that's the first thing I told my inner critic because if you've been in church much, you've heard about how you should pray. A certain percentage praise, a certain percentage repentance, etc. Well I can't worry about that right now. Harriet Tubman's prayers didn't seem to follow those rules and I'd like my prayer life to live and breathe and WORK so my life can be powerful like her's was. 

So that's my prayer, by which I hope Jesus will come to me this Christmas season. Kind of like the tunnel the Grinch takes from his cave to Whoville. Or incarnation. An angel said Jesus would be lots of things to us and we still talk about those when it gets Christmassy. First of all, The Tunneling (Immanuel - God is HERE.) And then once he gets here, the hope I'm holding onto is the Prince of Peace part. Sometimes I worry Jesus will just come and not bring the peace with him, like my sister forgetting a casserole (because what would we eat?!) But that's silly because it's WHO HE IS. Leaving it behind would be like lopping off his arm. You can't sit next to all his strength and confidence and breadth and know-it-all-ness (literally) and not relax.

Or can you? I think my insides are so mucked up with other stuff that even though he's in my heart, I feel the opposite of safe and taken care of. It's obviously problematic to live in a place where your visual space, even if you're just driving around is strategically used to tell you you're lacking. It's like a bad futuristic society except it's real and it's how it is here. How do I counteract the pressure to feel shame if my teeth aren't white? How do I calm myself when portrayals of holiday gatherings are so picturesque and warm-looking? They make the magic look easy and the average Jane, living in the real world starts to wonder what the heck's wrong with her if she can't pull that off when she's hosting.


When I was driving around to get some dreamed-of gifts for my kiddos, I heard Mahalia Jackson singing Silent Night. I was surprised when she went into a verse or a bridge and all she did was hum! What a voice. Even her humming was great. 

I think that's what God sounds like. 

If we could hear her, all the colors and richness in her voice would rock our souls to peace. You know she sings over us, which to me says, she thinks we're fantastic and precious and marvelous right now, with our yellow teeth and our cranky family gatherings. We are okay and it's going to be okay. 

Maybe that's why God made Mahalia sing like that. So I can know how big and good God is. How okay I am with her.

So I can feel peace.










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