The phone call came just three days after our house went on the market. The real estate agent on the phone asked if he could come see our house with his clients. I signaled the request to my husband in the driver’s seat.
With hearts thumping, we replied, “Of course, the house is yours, we’ll be gone all day.”
After I hung up the phone, we gave each other the eye, the knowing glance. Could they be the ones?
My husband asked me to pray right there in the car, but I struggled to find the words. I wish I could say I was just tired, but there was more to my silence than lack of sleep. Underneath my hesitant response to pray were theological underpinnings I didn’t want to admit.
You see, we’d been praying for a year.
Not for healing. Not for hope. Not for heaven to come down.
But for a home.
How fickle. How first world. How unspiritual.
How could He possibly care…about this.
You know this stuff. The tangible. The seen. The worldly things.
If I’m honest, I’ve struggled through the whole experience of moving. Why, I think to myself, pray for a house when we already had a perfectly good one? Of course, when we traveled overseas with the title of “missionary”, a prayer for the right house felt legitimate.
Would He even glance a loving eye towards us now as normal people? I didn’t think so.
He probably stood aloof, arms crossed, disappointed and saddened by our selfish prayers.
Didn’t He want more from us than a year of pleading for the right property?
I’ve always been certain there are worthy prayers, one’s that garner God’s attention.
Buying and selling a home, definitely didn’t fit into this category. Or did it?
Before I finish the story, how do you sway when it comes to prayer?
Does it come easier to you to focus on thanking and praising God than asking Him for anything? Perhaps you feel most comfortable interceding for others, for family and friends with needs? Maybe you follow a formal liturgy of prayer, take your cues from the book of common prayer, or pray straight from the Scriptures. Do you spend more time confessing your sins or in confessing the mystery of Jesus? Is it easier for you to pray for your amazon package to come on time, than it is for you to ask God to change your heart?
Do you tend to write your prayers, whisper them quietly, or pray aloud?
When do we pray? What do we pray? How do we pray? Do we recite ancient prayers, the Lord’s prayer, or make up our own? Do we pray once a day, morning and night, or all day? Do we pray alone, with our husband, our friends, or in a Sunday gathering?
Why do we pray? Is it for spiritual transformation and growth in our own heart, is it to cultivate our relationship with Jesus, conversing with Him as a friend, giving Him our burdens, asking for His will to be done in our lives?
So much, right? It’s overwhelming.
Here’s the kicker: Prayer is EVERYTHING listed above. The question is, can we be okay with that?
Can we sit in the tension of prayer and recognize that it holds layers upon layers of purpose, takes on hundreds of different looks and styles?
Can we experiment with different ways and types to pray? Can we sit amongst those who talk with God differently than we do and learn from them? Can we practice new methods instead of rehearsing our usual routines?
How could you sway towards the other sides?
Back to our minivan, where I was silently wrestling with my confusing theories on prayer. After all, I hear so much about prayer, what it is, what it isn’t. They are paralyzing philosophies.
Although I was uncomfortable to approach God with our request to bring the right buyers for our home, my husband was not. He ran straight to God with the confidence of a child in his Father’s house.
Thank you for hearing our earthy prayers… His words began.
My heart softened instantly. Thank you for hearing our earthy prayers. I can’t believe I had never uttered this truth before. Perhaps it was because I was too busy trying to prove my spiritual maturity to God in our conversation. Prayer was the place where I needed to show off a bit to God, say poetic things I don’t really mean, and pretend like everyone else mattered more than me.
An earthy prayer doesn’t sparkle with divine confetti. It’s dusty, dingy, stained with the proof of our humanity. It expresses real needs and wants and desires without a hint of shame. These prayers often mix with tears and messes and become mud pies.
These asking-for-a-house type prayers make me uncomfortable. I’d rather concoct a neat, unworldly prayer, full of memorized scriptures, formulaic jargon, and some tongues sprinkled in for good measure.
Paranoid. I didn’t want to sound like a mosquito buzzing in God’s ear, bothering Him all the time. I didn’t want to exceed my limit of requests (He has limits for that sort of thing, right?!) or wear out my welcome.
Father, hear my earthy prayer…can it be the prelude to every intimate interaction with our Creator? His nearness to the dirt, our dirt, astounded the Pharisees. I am no different.
Prayers for healing. Prayers for a home. Prayers of thanks. Prayers of peace. They are all the same to Him. Whether we patch a prayer together and pray in nonsensical circles, or pray a formal liturgy and aim for spiritual transformation, can we step into the tension and see the significance of it all?
If we are pilgrims, traveling with this wild God, then every road is an avenue leading us towards Him. Life is never static. We are always moving – physically and spiritually spiraling deeper into His heart.
Our prayers can reflect this unkempt adventure. They can be rolled up in the muck of everyday, smell like the soil after a rain.
Go ahead, concoct a mixed up, messy, mud pie prayer, don’t worry about the theories. He’s waiting to hear your voice. He thinks it’s beautiful
I’m curious, how do you sway when it comes to prayer? How did He speak to you about swinging in the tension?