You know those people that sound so eloquent and Godly while praying? Like you think they had to know in advance this prayer was going to be needed and they’ve been practicing for six months to make it so great?
I am not one of those people.
I try to avoid praying out loud at all costs. Mostly because I feel like how I pray isn’t “right” even though I know there isn’t a wrong way to pray. I also avoid praying out loud because I know everyone else is probably like wow she’s horrible at praying, I bet she doesn’t love Jesus enough.
Completely ridiculous but true thoughts that go through my head.
So when my friend Jessi volunteered me to pray for a small group of us a while ago, my first thought was to kill her. I would have called her a friend, but in that moment, I decided she was not my friend, she was actually my enemy and I needed to take her out. And because I don’t have a filter, I might have threatened her with violence and then begrudgingly agreed to pray while shooting her with eye darts.
So I prayed.
It was for a woman who we had just met through the Ronald McDonald House and whose son was sick. Most likely he wouldn’t live more than a few more years and I was overwhelmed with this task to know words, speak them out loud, and to make it through without crying.
It was a tall order and all Jessi’s fault.
But we grabbed each other’s hands (again, I think this was Jessi’s idea; this girl is FULL off bad ideas) and I prayed. I prayed for this family who was getting ready to celebrate Christmas away from home because their child was too sick to leave the hospital, I asked God to do a miraculous healing of his body because I serve a God who can do great things, and I asked for peace, a peace that passes all understanding. I asked God to give them a holiday filled with joy and laughter and less worry.
I didn’t pray long, even though it felt like eternity, and I’m pretty sure my palms were dripping sweat by the end. When I opened my eyes, just wanting the moment to be over because I still didn’t know how to pray the right words, there was not a dry eye in our group. It wasn’t because of my eloquent prayer said with the right inflection, dramatic pauses for effect, and all the powerful scripture quotes. It was because I was just a mom, praying for another mom with a bunch of other moms, who needed Jesus. It was because no one cared how I prayed, we just needed to pray and so we did. And Jesus heard our prayer as we gathered around this woman who was struggling, who was tired, and his heart broke for her pain. When we cried out to him, he listened. He didn’t judge, condemn, or roll his eyes at our lack of words, he just listened.
Sometimes I project my behavior onto Christ. I imagine him acting like I act because I’m dumb and I have a small mind that can’t comprehend someone so perfect. So I ruin a lot of things by bringing Christ to my level. I don’t pray out loud for others because it might sound wrong. Because He might not like it or it might not be pleasing. Because that’s how I act sometimes, ungrateful and bratty.
But He doesn’t do that. He just loves us and he just listens. And anyone else that happens to be around probably feels the same way.
I’m not going to say this realization has made me suddenly excited to pray out loud now. I don’t go around gathering people so I can lead us in prayer. I still avoid it like the plague. I still prefer others to take the lead. But I know that my words, however feeble and simple they seem, are good enough and welcome at the feet of Jesus. So I should say them confidently when I have the chance. And you should, too.