Recently I felt a call to join our church’s prayer team. What this means is that during communion, I am available to pray with people who wish to pray with someone.
This sounds simple. However, if you’ve ever read any of my blog posts before, or if you know me personally, you know it’s not that simple. Praying out loud with people isn’t exactly a skill that comes naturally to me.
I’ve waffled about this ministry. Do I truly feel a call to this? I don’t pray that well in my own life. I’m reading and learning and soaking in what I can about prayer, but I still don’t make the time to do it like I should. I admitted to someone recently that I fear praying for some things because if I don’t ask, God can’t say no, and I feel like I hear more nos than yeses in answer to my prayers. I’d love to be a prayer warrior. However, I’m not there yet. Not even close.
And yet, I still feel this niggling call to do this. Go figure.
For the first few weeks I planned to listen more than speak. You know, learn the ropes. Hear how it’s done. Hide out because I was afraid to do it myself, if you want the truth. And you probably want the truth. How silly this would be if I just wrote lies to you all the time. Regardless of the logic, the plan was to listen and not speak for a while.
But someone had a prayer need, and I understood it. I related so much I wanted to jump up and down and say “Me Too, Me Too.” I didn’t do this, but I did pray. Out loud.
Funny thing, this praying out loud in the back of the church during communion. First, I have no idea what I said. Knowing my great skills at small talk (NOT!), my total inability to speak on the fly, I suspect the words weren’t elegant. Or clear. In fact, I might have spouted complete nonsense. The person with whom I prayed might have returned to her seat scratching her head and wondering if nonsense prayers count.
I, however, had an epiphany that day, because I suddenly realized yes, nonsense prayers do count. In my head, I knew exactly what I was talking about. The words might not have reflected this, but the thought was there. The idea was sound. In my head, I was speaking with complete cohesion, and He knew what I was saying.
In other words, praying with people isn’t that much different than praying alone. It’s still about God and me. When I draw close to God with others at my side, they get drawn, too, even if I say the wrong words. It’s the heart that matters. The thoughts in my head. The beliefs in my soul. When I take someone’s hand and lead them to God with me, I can’t fail. Not really.
I dislike blog posts about the wrong things to say to people. The idea that if I don’t carefully count each word, I will destroy people who are hurting, people who are single, people who have lost someone, people who are different than me. The idea is that I must always get the words right. Yes, words are powerful. Yes, I should wield them carefully. But I get them wrong enough to know that it’s not simply words that matter. If that was true, nobody would ever speak to me, because I bungle words. It’s the meaning behind them. When I lost a baby, sometimes people said the wrong words, but not one of them ever, in any way, meant to hurt me. Never. We just have limited words to express big, deep thoughts, and sometimes the words don’t cut it. I can choose to hear the words and get offended, or I can choose to hear the heart that speaks them. I tend to choose the heart, mostly because I want the favor returned.
I hope people who pray with me understand that. I might say exactly the wrong thing from my mouth, but my heart and head aren’t failing. I promise. God hears the words of my heart. My spirit and His Spirit are communing. Let me take your hand and lead you there, even if the words get in the way. And if I have no words and simply take you with me to his throne in silence when you don’t have the strength to get there yourself, God hears both our hearts. He hears our desires. He delights in us coming together to meet with him, and he will always take time out to visit with us.
Today, don’t get caught up in someone’s words. Words are silly. (Says the writer!!) They’re limited. They don’t always reflect reality. Get caught up in someone’s heart, in their intentions. Pray with someone, even if it’s rough. Love someone different, even if you don’t completely understand. The Spirit can let us understand one another and help one another if we come with love and bear with each other’s weaknesses. For me, the spoken word is my biggest weakness.
But the love in my heart, placed there by God, is my biggest strength. Probably yours, too. Be bold. Let it out. Sometimes it clashes with the weaknesses, but that’s when we have to have patience with one another and know that we are family, in this together, wanting the best for each other. Regardless of the words that might slip out. And know I will always extend the same grace to you. I get it. I really do.