My heart aches as I remember people I’ve promised to pray for. Powerlessness stands hand in hand with weakness at the door of my soul. They taunt me and threaten me with paralysis.
I think of several friends sitting on the brink of financial ruin – not the kind of ruin that means eliminating a few luxury items, but ruin that puts them on the street. I’ve given money, encouragement and strategized ways to sidestep the inevitable. I pray. Nothing changes. Days and months pass by while their savings vanish and debt has reached the ceiling. They somehow continue on. I pray more.
For others, it’s the insidious snake of disease that has somehow slithered into their bodies without warning. How did it get past the gate of their faith? They seemed so healthy. I boldly pray for healing, while silently cursing the strength of the foe. I wrestle with my theology, reminding it what I believe. I quote scriptures, I cry. I pray for strength to pray again. I hurt for my friends. Powerlessness and weakness want to stake claim to my soul.
The softness of the ache is tempted to yield to a more comfortable place – to hardness, anger and defeat.
I promised to pray for a place for my friend to live. I promised to pray for a friend’s drug addicted child. I promised to pray for healing and restoration – for deliverance. Instead, I find myself focusing on my own wounded heart that yearns for quick fixes, solutions and the easier road.
I fail at my promises – I don’t dare accuse God of failing at his. I hurt.
Prayer is a mystery to me. There are times I drift into the safe harbor of God’s presence, thinking I’ll never return – and I don’t want to. Nothing seems impossible in those moments. I can taste his goodness and see his strength. So why wouldn’t I use those moments to advocate for my friends? Am I just too selfish? Do I easily forget about my friends?
Or do my own suggestions disintegrate in the light of his sovereignty.
I think the mystery is God himself, not prayer. Praying through our own heaviness of heart and for the needs of others is a gift, not a task. Prayer fulfills the two commandments he left for us – to love him and love others. Praying is the act of loving others by speaking their name and sharing their pain. Ultimately, prayer leads us to the mystery of God’s higher place – his better plans.
I should be free enough to welcome powerlessness and weakness when I pray. For they remind me of my own limitations. They point me to his vast and mysterious capability.
My heart aches when I forget who calls me to the privilege of prayer. When I forget who plans – who listens.
My soul soars when I remember that I’m not remembering alone.
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