Praying for change

Prayer.  It’s the word, the idea, I can’t get away from this week.

God has put it on my mind and on my heart.  I pick up a book I’ve owned since March.  It’s been waiting it’s turn in line on my shelf to be read.  It’s a book about a woman’s journey to learn how to pray, and I can’t put it down.

I turn on a sermon podcast in the car.  It’s the next one in line to be listened to.  Someone must have mislabeled it because the sermon tiled “Trinity” was so much about prayer, that it has to be tiled wrong.  And boy was it what I needed to hear.

My last blog post mentioned a desire I had to pray more for the hurting, and God heard me peaking my head up, and He said, “You there, raising your hand saying your willing to pray, here you go.  I’m giving you instructions and I’m daring you to do it.”  (Maybe that’s not really how God talks, but I kind of picture a coach with a whistle putting me into the prayer game.  That’s how it feels anyway.)

These lessons on prayer I’m hearing, in my book, from that sermon, from the Holy Spirit guiding my heart, they are not new.  I dove into the pool of learning to pray once before with such fervency that those lessons are deeply etched into my heart.  As a young woman I learn what prayer was and how to pray.  I wanted my prayers to be effective and to avail the way James 5:16 describes.

The summer of 1998 I was 7 months pregnant with my first baby, and my mom was having surgery.  She was having a hysterectomy.  So I went to Ft. Worth to be a loved one sitting in the hospital room.  I was young and didn’t know what I was suppose to do, but I knew good daughters waited in hospital rooms.  I went to be a good daughter.  So as I was baking a brand new daughter in my belly, my mom had her baby baking equipment removed.

Turns out hospitals, when they aren’t the setting for nightmares or miracles, can be quiet, boring places.  I regretted not bringing a book to read, so I grabbed one of my mother’s, a book about prayer.

It was a game changer.  I soaked in every specific lesson I could about talking to God.

I don’t know why the book on prayer jumped out at me.  I’m guessing it was because I knew I was on my way to becoming a mother.  “Praying” and “mother” are two words that go together out of sheer necessity.  How can you ever plan on mothering a child without the opportunity to beg God for help in such an impossibly big job.

So I sat and read about prayer in a room with three generations of women of our family in three very different places in life.  My mom in a pain medicine induced sleep trying to recover from surgery, me contemplating how to talk to the God who created me and how to be a praying mother, and my baby girl Lucy safely resting in my quiet belly, warm, cozy, and loved.

Driving in my car yesterday, memories of those days in that hospital room from the summer of ’98 came flooding back to me.  I began to ask why was prayer so important to me again.  I didn’t land on a good answer.

Then this morning I realized it.  I’m paper pregnant.  I’ve been paper pregnant waiting for our Ethiopia adoption to turn into a new child to mother now for 1 year, 5 months, and 9 days.

God surely knows that this child, who is not safely baking in my tummy, needs prayer.

I’m trusting the Spirit to guide my prayers for my little boy.  I want them to be specific to his circumstances.  Even though I have no idea where he is and what he needs, our God knows.

I bet you are wondering why I’m not praying every day for this child that will be my child.  If you’re not wondering it, I am.  Time can be daunting.  Fervency and excitement wears off.  Waiting becomes something I try not to think about.

And I need prayer because waiting is hard.

In the line at the grocery store yesterday, we run into friends.  The subject of how long our adoption from Ethiopia is taking comes up.  I tell them we could be 1 and 1/2 years into a possible 4 year wait.  Those numbers get the reaction you are probably having.  I don’t like those numbers.

But God said to do this.  So we are doing it, and right now that means waiting.

I want something to happen.  I don’t like waiting.  So yeah, I need prayer too.  I’m in my safe house with a well fed stomach and a family who loves me.  But I need Him.

The fact that we can talk to this magnificent God who made us and loves us is a gift.  The fact that we can ask for intercession for people who we barely know or even don’t know is humbling.  The fact that we can ask God to help us be more like Him, bear the fruits of His Spirit: LOVE, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, that is life changing.

Here is what Patricia Raybon says in her book I Told the Mountain to Move:

Prayer as Richard Foster said, ‘is the deepest and highest work of the human spirit.’ In real prayer, Foster added, we think God’s thoughts. We desire the things that God desire. We love the things that God loves. We will the things that God wills. But there is more, I learned. Isn’t there always? In real prayer, we go places we don’t want to go. We learn lessons we don’t want to learn. We tell secrets we don’t want to tell. We walk bridges we don’t want to cross. We face battles we don’t want to fight. Then we change the world. We stand at the door to heaven and then we rush in. But as we go, we change ourselves. ‘To pray is to change,’ wrote Foster and with those few words he pulled together the deep essence of it all.
— Patricia Raybon
Shauna Niequist mentioned Guster on Twitter this week, and I've been revisiting some songs I love.