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In which I [Just Write] about praying like it matters

I’m not looking for any “Good-Christian-Points” nor do I want to be one of those awful people that chirp “I”m praying!” like it’s some magical band-aid for their deep hurts, questions and needs.

But I quietly pray for miracles.

Sometimes, we act like God never answers our prayers and we feel more comfortable in our doubts and questions than in that hunch we have stuffed down in our soul that maybe, just maybe, God could actually do something amazing here, that he wants to do something amazing here.  I used to pray “Thy will be done” as a cop-out, a safety net to avoid the risky prayers, the ones that meant I was openly begging heaven for a miracle, the prayers that involved my heart on the line along with yours, putting some of my own skin in the game. Along the way, after the deconstruction of my faith, I learned to pray “thy will be done” again and know that it is dangerous but that is because his will is more loving, more wild, more whole, more than I can ask or imagine in every way. That is the risk of saying yes.

We all know what it’s like to pray and not hear from heaven. Or at least – I do. To pray and still give birth to babies you’ll never hold, to pray and still lose, to pray and still struggle with monsters, to pray and wonder sometimes why you bother because the problems are so big and I feel so lame, like prayer is not really doing something constructive or helpful. We pray for our brothers and sisters around the world, dying and starving and losing some cosmic lottery that we didn’t ask to win and, from far away it looks like we are all losing but there are stories of redemption there, too, and isn’t prayer more about us being changed into God’s character than actually about moving his hand in our direction?

Yes. But.

But still I pray for God’s hand to move. I pray like it matters. I pray for the story to change with these words in the middle of it all -  “But God….,” right after the pain and the suffering and the yearning, and then BOOM. Miracle.

After my last miscarriage, the one between Anne and Joe, some people I trust felt moved to pray with me and for me that it would, in fact, be my last. That I would be able to have children and carry them, healthy, to term. At that point, I’d had too many pregnancies for only one child in my arms. And since then? Joseph. And since then? Evelynn.

A miracle.

Why was Kienan returned when so many children are not? I don’t know. We all begged heaven to do something. And he is home with his family now. This one leaves me feeling shaky with answered prayers, a bit too close to heaven, a bit wondering about the why and the how because it feels like nothing less than a mountain moved by the hand of God.
A miracle.
A friend of ours was diagnosed with a very serious form of cancer last year.  I was scared out of my mind for her and her precious family. I often woke during the night over this past year, called in some part of my heart to pray like it matters, but it wasn’t some great moment of faith, no, it was more me, hanging onto the hem of the robe of heaven, snot flying and saying, “But Jesus, she has two little girls. But Jesus, we need this one. But Jesus, this isn’t fair.” And today, somehow, miraculously, she is cancer-free. Her final surgery was this week, her insides all stitched back together, God, doctors, modern medicine, love.
A miracle.

It’s the weirdest thing to me that – in this world – I somehow still pray for miracles. And the reason I still pray for a divine interruption in the natural order of things, in the way of the world, is because I believe that God is, truly, wonderfully, redemptively, Love. So I pray for what I think lines up with the God I know – healing, wholeness, peace, love, beauty, restoration, redemption, forgiveness – but it doesn’t always turn out the way I expect. And I mourn all the more deeply, wonder more strongly when it doesn’t work out how I thought it should.

I don’t have a clue why some prayers are answered the way I think they should be answered and why others aren’t.

Any answer I’ve ever heard seems disingenuous, reductive, childish or limited or ridiculous at best, heartless and cruel, at worst.

I have a lot of unanswered prayers. I struggle with how to pray sometimes so I just hold it all up and ask for Someone I trust to notice, to number the stars, to collect the tears, to redeem it all someday.

But I also have a lot of answered prayers, quiet miracles worth just as much consideration as the rest of it, a track record of His faithfulness, His Love breaking through.

And so I keep praying, like it matters, clinging to, abiding in His Love above it all, expecting some kind of a miracle.

For us all.

This is linked up with Heather of the EO for Just Write. And it shows because I’m fairly sure that this makes absolutely no sense. That’s what I get for trying to write out something I don’t quite understand myself, I imagine, something that is in the rebuilding-stage after deconstruction.


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community, emerging church, faith, journ, miscarriage, prayer
  • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

    wow, I think it makes too much sense. You captured the tension. I feel like I swing so much these days from intense belief to equally intense doubt. It’s words and promises and prayer that keep grounding me.

  • http://corvidarium.blogspot.com/ wendy

    No, it does make sense.
    I struggle with prayer these days. I can’t bring myself to make bold requests. Just feels too audacious to me.
    And there are no good answers to why things happen the way they do.
    All I can do is sit close with Jesus, and try to share his heart.

  • Mary1912

    So true. God has really been challenging me in prayer over the course of the past year or so. And now I’ve hit this wall. Circumstances have really knocked me on my ass and I feel like all I can do is pray the Anne Lamott prayer – “help”. And cry too.

  • Alisha

    I have been following your blog for awhile now and it has been so amazing at how relevant most of your posts are to my life and the lives of those around me. We (my fellow Kingdom of Heaven-ites and I) have been talking a lot about the power of belief and prayer and faith. We (the collective “we”) I think are starting to notice more and more the reality of the words of Jesus. The reality that when we believe and have faith like a child, things happen. “You will do these things and more…” Miracles happened and ARE happening. I think we have just forgotten in all the hype of the world. Thank you for sharing this. It is so true and I am so happy that people like you are noticing these miracles that happen every day. And I believe they happen because somebody BELIEVES. God is so faithful and wonderful and awesome. May we all move mountains every day!

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ Leigh Kramer

    It not only makes sense but it reminds me to remember the answered prayers. Too often I get hung up on the ones He hasn’t answered or remains silent about.  But I, too, can point to the miracles.  I choose to let that be enough for today.

  • Anne J

    I think you have an amazing faith.

  • http://aislingdream.wordpress.com/ Melanie

    Makes all the sense in the world, my friend

  • Christiana

    It makes sense to me Sarah. There is wisdom in this, I think, because you’re not willing to give safe answers. I love your honesty and I believe in your heart. Okay THAT probably doesn’t make any sense but still it’s true!

    I’m struggling so hard with honest prayer. I struggle with every single one of these questions you’ve mentioned but I still feel encouraged by what you have to say.

  • http://www.prestonyancey.com/ Preston Yancey

    My mother has suffered a chronic illness for just over twelve years now. There have been man prayers, many, “But God,” and so far the whipser of Heaven has yet to be stop, no, or accept. Instead comes wait, in the fullness of time, this too shall pass. So we pray, so we say, “But God.” And some days, when this and when all comes to the point, when it all is there, when the pain, when the sorrow, when the ache of the cosmos comes and sits on my chest, all I have is “But God,” and somehow it’s enough. Thank you for reminding me that “But God” is a complete prayer.

  • http://bickleyhouse.wordpress.com/ Jeff Bickley

    What a beautiful entry!  I think you nailed it.  I especially liked the part about “hanging onto the hem of the robe of heaven, snot flying…”  Because, in reality, when we pray like it matters, that is truly what we are doing.  You have touched my prayer life.  Thank you.

  • Sarah S

    Thank you for this. You expressed it beautifully.

  • smoothstones

    I’m glad I visited, today. Good for you for clinging to prayer and the hope in it; sometimes, it’s all we have.

  • http://neuenkim.blogspot.com Kimberly

    thank you for this…beautiful.