Every Friday morning this summer we would be rushing around and never leave on time. We would speed-walk to the pastor’s house, only making it on time once. We would come together for something called Manse Prayer. We’d hurry to get there, but once we walked in, my heart would slow. This time was set apart. I had nowhere else to be, nothing else I had to be getting done. This was holy time.
We would take a seat around his living room, and we’d pass around the songbooks. It had only the words to songs, which didn’t really make a difference to me because even if I had notes, I wouldn’t be able to hold a tune. We would start be singing together; usually the pastor’s wife would lead. She knew all the songs and had a nice voice. I would usually be sitting by Rachel, whose voice is also beautiful. I would sing quietly, but there was something about singing praises to God that made me unconcerned with my lack of songbirdness.
Then Pastor would ask what prayer requests or praises we brought with us. We would each bring up something—upcoming events, people who were traveling, people who needed healing. Then we would close our eyes and take turns praying out loud, raising up our praises and needs.
For the first Friday, I remained silent. I let them skip me. I am never one to speak if given the chance to stay silent. After all, I developed a little more courage and I would pray. I would thank God for his character, for his love and his justice. I would pray for my pastor, who at the time, we had no idea exactly what was wrong. (They later discovered it is West Nile. And I’m still praying for his recovery.) We would pray together. Heads bowed (one of my teammates falling asleep in the corner), we would pray to the God who hears us.
I have struggled with feeling like I am any good at prayer. Sometimes I pretend I am eloquent with my words, but I know that more often than not, I fumble through prayers. People who don’t really know me say I am quiet and will say how I am a person who doesn’t waste my words. Honestly, that sounds like such a pretty image and I would love to be someone who is careful with her words. I just don’t think that’s me. At least not when it comes to prayer.
Though one of my other teammates wrote in my birthday card how I pray in a way that shows my closeness with God, often my prayers look like a mess. Probably because I feel like a mess on the outside. I pray messy prayers to a God who can handle messes.
While sitting across a table from my friend who made a series of mistakes, I try to spread words of grace and mercy, but mostly I just nod my head. In my head, I’m praying furiously to try to sort through everything. Despite everything, I believe God is a God of mercy and he calls me to show the same.
So, as I know my London church family got together to pray on this Friday morning, I am across the pond praying prayers of peace, mercy, grace, healing, and love. They feel inadequate, but still I lift them up.