Translating My Prayers


I had a friend from Romania who attended Kairos with her new husband of four months. Since he’s not quite as adept at English as she is, she interpreted most of the Kairos service for him. It was a beautiful thing to see.

Then a light bulb went off in my head. That’s what the Holy Spirit does for me when I pray. I don’t mean that God needs an interpreter to understand my Southern dialect of English, but sometimes my prayers don’t even have words. Sometimes all I have are sighs and groans that are too deep for words, raw emotions that I can’t figure out, much less give voice to.

That’s where the Holy Spirit takes over. Even when I’m praying what I think God wants to hear, the Holy Spirit is inside me praying what’s really in my heart and on my mind. Even if that is anger toward God or frustration with how I think he’s guiding me.

Sometimes in prayer, thoughts come unbidden to my mind that I’m afraid to pray. Or at least I’m tempted to spiritualize so that they sound more Christian. Through the Holy Spirit, God sees beyond my Christian-ese and my thees and thous to the real words I can’t (or won’t) pray.

As I’ve said before, I’m so glad God didn’t give me 90% of what I asked for. He may not have caused that certain girl to fall in love with me, but he gave me something much better. He gave me Himself and an overwhelming sense of a more perfect Love that no human could ever give me.

He may not  have given me riches, but He’s helped me to see how richly blessed I am and how much I have to be truly thankful for.

Sometimes, I go to The Book of Common Prayer when I don’t have words of my own. I’ve used The Liturgy of the Hours recently as well. Some of Henri Nouwen’s prayers have felt like they were my own prayers said better than I could ever say them. Sometimes, all I have is “Lord, help” and “Thank you, Lord.” Even my silence before God is a form of prayer for that is often when I can finally hear Him speaking to me.

So if all you fail to get anything else out of all I’ve written, get this. God wants to hear from you. He doesn’t want pretty words or perfect theology or even coherent sentences. He wants you, all of you. Every bit of joy and pain, hurt and triumph, sorrow and happiness. He wants everything that’s on your heart and on your mind.

This comes from one ragamuffin trying to tell all the other ragamuffins out there where to find the best Bread out there. That’s all.

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