I’ve been having a hard time praying recently. With everything that’s been going on I know, it’s the best time to pray but honestly, I haven’t been able to verbalize very much. Have any of you felt the same way?
While talking to a close friend earlier this week I realized just how much not verbalizing what’s been on my mind to the One who holds the beginning and the end, had taken a toll on me. I told her about the weight of what I’ve been feeling. To use two words to describe it – distant and tired. I’ve literally felt so far away from God because I didn’t know what to tell Him. Instead of drawing closer, I went in the opposite direction. It was a moment of religion vs. relationship for me.
It seems the push away is a common response when we think God doesn’t want to hear us “because we haven’t been good”. I felt guilty for not praying primarily because I didn’t know how to express what I was feeling, and I felt like that was immature and not good enough of a reason; rather than simply saying to God “I have no idea what to tell you right now but this is how I’m feeling and I need your help…” it’s in that space that we need to welcome Him, not only in the requesting part of prayer. Sometimes we just need to sit in the presence and hear what He has to say.
Still having to balance everything in the midst of a pandemic is no easy feat. It can mentally drain you sometimes even when you’re being cautious not to become caught up in the hype. And trust, I’ve let go of a lot I can’t control but even some of the things within my control seemed to be affected by my state of mind. So I’m writing this post today to open up a bit more of that vulnerable space with you and to share what I’ve been doing to still keep my spiritual tank fueled.
In The Beginning…
Our church has been studying the book of Hebrews over the last month or more by now. Earlier this week while online for one of our Bible study sessions, our pastor was unpacking Hebrews 11 and the main theme of that chapter is faith. As he was walking us through verse by verse, I simply began to journal the words and points that stood out to me most. Words and points led to sights and sounds and became messages of reassurance to myself that I didn’t know I needed. The heaviness I’d been feeling found its way onto the pages of my journal. I wrote out my expressions of how I’d been feeling and the release came.
For one second I thought – but this isn’t a prayer. But then I asked myself, why isn’t it? Is it “wrong” if I write first and recite after? Is it wrong if I only write and journal because I don’t know what to say? I found my answer the more I wrote. At that moment I was reminded that God is ever-present. He knows what I’m thinking before I say, and even when I can’t find words He doesn’t walk away until I get it together, He sits there with me in that moment listening to the words of my soul. He’s listening to the groaning and aching of my spirit.
I went on a research quest to see if what I was “feeling” was normal. Here are two articles that helped me navigate the waters. One is on Relevant Magazine and the other on Desiring God.
Bonnie Gray’s point, “…but God is showing me prayer is an intimate soul conversation to be loved and known, rather than a spiritual transaction to be made better.” put words to my deep longing and addressed my perspective on prayer right there and then. On the surface, I wanted to have the transaction alone out of duty but the connection was absent. My soul was aching for what was beyond the surface, to be known in my moment of weakness by the One who knows me best. Though I couldn’t’ verbalize, I was able to write and writing doesn’t make the communion less powerful.
Secondly, Thomas Manton’s point in Mark Jones’ Desiring God article reminded me that not only is God, God but He is also a close to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18). A friend is someone you want to talk to, not out of duty but because you want them to be included in your life and vice versa. That’s the kind of terms we want to develop with God. Include Him in the everyday things, the highs, lows, and in-betweens.
“…prayer is the conversation of “a loving soul with God,” and “acts of friendship and communion must not be rare and unfrequent, but constant and often.” He wrote, “If we have a love to God, we cannot keep long out of God’s company, but will be with him pouring out our hearts to him.”Thomas Manton
I found Him. Though it felt like He’d left, it was me that drifted away from the sound of His voice. I’d been swept away into the tango of the day to day. Keeping time with the roles, responsibilities but losing sight of His presence. Has that ever happened to you? For a moment I lost sight of Christ my centre. So without words, I laid it all down and found my healing – right there on those pages. He is faithful even when we drift but His desire is that we find Him again.
In addition to journaling, I also got me a reminder to muse upon when skies become grey again as they probably will. This is Bre. I had a vision some time ago picturing the image you see here but she didn’t have a name, only a title – “Becoming” fitting, right? 🙂 When I found someone here at home who could bring my girl to life, I knew I HAD to go forward with it.
Bre is a visual reminder that I am Still Becoming. Though I know this fact to be true, I don’t remember it all of the time. So I got her to hang in our home and in my heart and mind to become an echo when I doubt myself. For the moments when I can’t find words to pray and I need to find rest in the fact that this is another part of my journey. The vision I had of her came to me at a time when I was facing some other tough challenges and I’d found comfort in the fact that I was still “Becoming”. This word isn’t just the title of this space, but it is literally the soundtrack of my life if you will, lol.
If you look at her good, you’ll see she looks as though she’s resting and leaning into the process. The butterflies represent the beauty that comes after caterpillars endure metamorphosis. Purple is my favourite color if you haven’t noticed by now, lol.
A sweetheart by the name of Liana took what I explained to her from my vision and brought Bre to life. Check our more of Liana’s work here – she is seriously an AMAZING person and super talented – this is an unashamed PLUG <- just in case you missed the first link.
Apparently the name Bre is of Irish origin and means strength, power, vigor, and virtue. Which are all nice, but for me, her name is an acronym meaning – Believe. Regroup. Execute.
Believe – A reminder that when things get cloudy, God is still God and He’s ever-present. A reminder that I’m to always go back to the source of my strength and the author of my life. My belief and trust in Him bring clarity to the madness.
Regroup – A reminder that I am Still Becoming and I ought to be patient and gracious with myself. A reminder to take breaks and regroup as necessary lest I burn on fumes and be no use to myself or anyone. A reminder that I’m not less of a believer if I can’t find words to pray immediately but my honesty and ability to bring myself to where God is, is sincere – even if I have to write it out. He sees my heart.
Execute – A reminder to get back into the swing of things after taking the time to regroup. There’s a part of my purpose that’s dependent on putting my hands to the plow. God does His part, but I’m to do mine.
So there you have it. A longwinded (sorry, not sorry today 😂) crash course on how to find hope in the midst of chaos, especially when you have a hard time finding words to say. These are my thoughts on how not being able to pray in a moment unearthed a different dimension of awareness (and creativity) and closeness to God. And if you’ve gotten this far, here’s a song that pretty much sums up this post.
As always, thank you for choosing to spend your time on the blog. I hope this post guides you toward The Light.
Can’t wait to see the greatness come out of each of you!
Cover Photo Credit: rdtauhde