For as long as I can remember God has been my center. I knew this even as a small child. Now, as an alleged grown person, I wonder what that means. I was raised with a simple faith. I do not think my family meant to give me such a flimsy faith, but they could only give me what they had. I was told to put a Bible under my pillow to protect me from bad dreams (it has never worked and I still suffer from bad dreams). I was taught that you pray. I somehow absorbed that if we pray we can get everything that we need. This is simply not true.
I have to tell you that every single time I realize that there is no safety net as I walk this high wire, it is as if my body is being slammed onto a brick wall at a high speed. It just sucks that there is no protection for us. So I have always struggled with prayer and to figure out who this God is that I am drawn to, whom I beg to stay by my side.
Dear God, please be with me.
I always thought that my safe passage in this world was guaranteed because I was in the God club; I was saved. Isn’t that what saved means? As a girl I had many prayers: that we could live in a house, that the scars on my knees would go away, and that my dad wouldn’t have cancer anymore. My dad died of cancer. I never lived in a house with my dad. My knees are still banged up.
God, I am so tired. I need strength.
So with my heart and guts wrenched out, why is it that I still find myself praying to this God?
God, you have thousands upon thousands of angels. Can you send one in please. I know you can.
So what the shit is prayer for anyway? I met a girl in college who I grew to love. I knew that I could not live without her. But I was so afraid of her dying. She was so sick. I wanted to pray for her healing. I wanted to ask God to let me keep her. I knew prayer did not work like that. I prayed anyway. My prayers were always frantic and beggy. They still are. I wept and sobbed. I carry with me so many stories of unanswered prayers: stillborn babies, orphaned children, uncured illnesses, burned down and flooded homes, small wounds that led to amputation because there wasn’t enough money to see a real doctor, a starving mother with twins who only has enough milk to nurse one baby. I hold these tragedies in my heart, and carry them with me wherever I go. My natural inclination is still to pray.
Please, God. Please help. Send help soon.
[cricket chirping noises]
There isn’t anything else to do but pray. That is why I still do it. I get so mad sometimes that God brought me into this world. I did not agree to the terms of this life. Yet here I am- alive. This life on this earth is so very, very, painful. I have lost things I cannot live without. I will continue to lose people I cannot live without. We are subjected to great suffering here.
God, I am so tired.
Why am I still here? Because I can hear God calling me to stay. It feels like I am treading water in the cold open ocean and the sharks can smell blood. Every now and then, I feel warmth, I get a deep breath, someone lets me rest my head on their shoulders and swims for me. The girl I met in college is healed.
God, thank you. Just- thank you. Help me hold on to this relief.
Before I feel rested I am back to treading water again with salt water up my nose, chapped lips, and a sore body.
Ugh, God. I don’t know how much longer I can do this.
I still hesitate to pray. It is hard to ask when the answer seems to so often be a still and silent- no. I just cannot resist prayer. Even when I am filled with doubt, my mind does it anyway. I ask for the easiest way out of things, and the only thing God gives me is God. I am not promised safe passage through this world. I will continue to have my heart wrenched out of my chest. God will continue to be there by my side like a faint whisper.