The Only Two Prayers I Can Speak

Posted on April 10, 2012


I am not a great person of prayer. At my funeral no one will say that I was a great prayer-warrior. I don’t spend much time talking to God the way I talk to my wife or my friends. Sometimes my journal entries seem to be addressed to God, but most of the time they are a record of events or a way to help me process what is going on in my head. My knees are not calloused by nightly supplication and sometimes I fall into bed so tired that I fall asleep without even thinking of God.

And I don’t really feel bad about this.

My rationale is that God knows everything I could say. God knows the state of the world. God knows the state of my heart. God knows the sin within me, the jealousy and pride and those deeper, nameless sins of which I remain ignorant until I eventually hurt someone by them and must face them dead-on. God knows all these things so why speak them out loud or write them on paper?

Even though God knows, God still wants to hear from you.

Not a good enough reason. I’m not going to waste God’s time with blather that only ends up reinforcing my own self-centeredness. I’m not going to pass off my worries and concerns as piety. There are only two prayers that I pray with regularity. They are:

Help me in my work.

I’ve done all I can. Into your hands I give this.

I cannot pray for starving children unless I have done everything in my power to help them. I cannot pray for unborn babies without helping their mothers in every way possible. I cannot pray for political leaders without being involved myself. Even among those people I know personally, I cannot pray for the comforting of the sick unless I have baked a loaf of bread and brought it to them. I must try to be the answer to my prayer.

And when I have done that. When I have at least done something then I can pray for healing, restoration, peace, joy, reconciliation, forgiveness, and love. To do this second prayer, without even the feeblest of attempts to help, is only a selfish balm that makes me feel like I have done something, when in fact, I have turned my back on an opportunity to help, on an opportunity to both see and be the face of Christ.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on prayer. Maybe your prayers are different from mine. When you pray it might jump to the top of God’s to-do list. Wonderful. Use your influence to make the world a better place. But that isn’t how it works for me. I will continue to fumble in the awkward silence of prayer until I get up the courage to make the phone call, bake the bread, volunteer, or follow my heart in whichever other way the spirit may lead.



Photo: Aronki

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