November 1, 2010

A simple request

In my early walk with the Lord I was petrified to pray out loud. I would hear the prayers of others and know that mine would never sound so beautiful, so fluid. Anytime I was in a situation where I would have an opportunity to pray out loud, I would wait quietly, seconds dragging by, for the silence to be filled by someone else calling on God. I was embarrassed of stumbling. I did not want to sound like a bumbling fool before these godly people whose prayers, I was sure, delighted the Lord in their purity and simplicity.
Praying alone was not a problem. I could be honest with God and just be myself. But to open my mouth in front of others, that was a different story. I made it through high school and college mostly dodging the spotlight of prayer.
When you are a pastor’s wife, however, you can’t stay away from community prayer for very long, so soon enough I couldn’t hide anymore. I would be called to pray out loud often. And my face would turn red and hot. And my words would not make sense. And I would hear myself and think, as I prayed, you sound like an idiot; get it together; why did you just say that?; you need to stop now. And I was sure the pats and hugs from people afterwards were expressions of sympathy and pity for my poor attempt at divine communication on their behalf.
And I wasted so many wonderful years feeling that way…
I wish I could say I remember the moment in which this changed. I wish I could pinpoint a divine intervention or specific situation that opened my eyes to promises of spoken prayer but I can’t. At some point I cannot define, perhaps just out of growing intimacy with Jesus, I stopped worrying about what others heard and begun to dialogue with my “Audience of One,” to use the well-known expression.  I came to understand that to my Holy God my words sounded like music both in the secret of my prayer closet, and in the open of a spoken conversation.
I don’t pray long, elaborate prayers. I simply talk to my Maker. He talks and I talk and we talk. And my friends listen and are encouraged and I listen to them and I’m encouraged and together we lift our voices in a chorus of agreement and we call on the Lord, claiming his promises and his presence. “When two or more are gathered…” you know the rest.
And when I discovered the power of communal intercession I also discovered a new avenue to love. When someone has a need, rather than saying I will pray for you, I say let’s pray. And we stop, right then and there, and raise our voices to the heavens in unison, pleading and thanking. And I count it a privilege to share that moment with you and an honor that you trusted me to intercede on your behalf.
Let’s pray together…
Let me pray for you; let me hear you pray for me. I promise to never judge your conversation with our Father. I promise to simply listen, to echo, to agree. I promise we will be changed and feel closer to each other and closer to the Lord in the end. Be my “two” and I will be your “two” and He promises to come and listen and respond.


Unknown said...

I used to feel the same way. Why couldn't I be eloquent and free-flowing? I don't remember an exact moment when it changed for me either. Aaaaaand I am slowly learning about stopping and praying immediately for my friends. It's good. Real good.

Gaby said...

Thanks, girl. You are always so encouraging to me.

Jennifer said...

Yes! I was raised in a liturgical church environment, so when my family started going to a non-denominational church, I was terrified to pray out loud. But by the grace of God, at some moment that I don't remember either, He helped me to realize that praying isn't about speaking Christianese but words from the heart.

Gaby said...

Christianese, I like that! :)