There is a certain intimacy that accompanies prayer with another person. One would think that the person closest to you would be the easiest one to engage in prayer, but I have found that not to be so. John and I have had numerous fits and starts to a prayer life together that dwindles before we can even witness the answers to our prayers. There has been a certain awkwardness that accompanies these attempts that stirs-up resistance within me. Is it the monotony of the same words day after day? Is it the timing? Is it the fear of being known at a deeper level? Is it the discipline? Ah…yes to all of these.
Recently John suggested, “I would like for us to pray together each day.” “OK”, I replied reluctantly. I don’t know why but I suggested that he make-up a list of different topics that we could pray for each day. I could feel the tightness forming in my chest as my resistance surfaced with doubts and fears of what, when and if he would do this. And now I was expecting resistance from him for me stating my desire about our path of prayer that he initiated. But he said, “Yes! Good idea.” I felt relieved that my desire was heard as good. So I left it in his affirmation and waited. I didn’t wait long. Soon John presented his daily list to me and we started.
John was most creative as he included our immediate family daily and, just to name a few, specific people, our government, our church and, of all things, a beloved prayer that is decades old and two and a half pages long. John’s plan was for us to read the prayer out loud rotating every other paragraph. I found myself reading along with him, listening to his voice and pondering the powerful words being read out loud in my living room. This was certainly a variation from the norm for me. I could feel the release of stress from my body, mind and soul. I felt a renewed power in the dependence in the name of Jesus that soothed my heart. I wondered what does this all mean as I navigate my daily life?
Soon after I began to experience a new softening in my heart for the faces and the lives of people I know. I could feel a new level of kindness creep in where anger and fear felt rooted deeply. I felt a sadness in my heart that carried grief as tears made their way into my eyes. I felt afraid and asked myself, “What was it all about?”
I was soon to find out. It was actually in the presence of others where the loss of our relationships had me nearly convinced that death had won in my heart. I felt panicky and afraid because I could not feel the rage that previously prevented me from feeling my grief. I felt uncertain and exposed but strangely protected as I embraced the presence of peace inside me. I couldn’t explain it then and I’m having difficulty explaining it now but God’s presence inside me gave me the freedom for love and grace and I began to weep.
I truly believe that this all happened because of prayer.
Something needed to be surrendered in me. It had gripped my heart and was literally sucking the life out of me.
I believe it was the fear and rage…against who? Myself or others? Probably both.
It all started with, “I would like for us to pray together each day.” Indeed we have. Just so you know, John and I pray out loud on Fridays. It never gets old even though the prayer is. It carries life giving words, ones that have renewed my hope, faith and my belief that God is with me always.
Mary Jane Hamilton loves her life living on Lake Michigan with her husband of 48+ years. It is her family that brings her the greatest joy especially her 6 grandchildren. MJ readily admits that she adores her dachshunds and rests in the comfort they provide. She smiles at life and “rolls with the punches”. MJ loves Jesus and beauty, MJ loves wind, waves and thunder, MJ loves fashion and good wine, MJ loves…&n