Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Only Prayer I'm Able To Pray Right Now

this last sunday john and i returned to church after about a five month hiatus - probably the longest stretch of time in my entire life without attending a worship service.

we pretty much went straight back to church right after noah died and we were either standing there like robot zombies or weeping uncontrollably. it's hard to explain, but church felt incredibly vulnerable. during the worship music i would get pretty emotional (it's always been a very personal experience for me), and i felt uncomfortable because i could tell i was making other people uncomfortable.

also, john and i were/are carrying some intense anger, at God especially, and we just felt fake and like we were just going through the motions of "church." and i hate that. i want my faith, and its profession, to be authentic and real.

and there were definitely times i felt guilt about not going to church. not because i was ever one of those people who went to church out of obligation or because i "should" like a good girl, i felt guilt because i believed, and still strongly believe, in worshiping God in all circumstances, not just when life is going well. no matter what, i desire to have a heart that seeks after God when i'm broken and disappointed, just as much as when i'm filled with gratitude and joy.

i was chatting with a friend about my feeling like a hypocrite a couple months ago, and i said something like, "how can i go from, not only believing, but preaching the importance and necessity of praising God through all things, and then when my world is rocked, i can't even attend church or speak to God directly, let alone praise Him."

and you know what she said? "you are praising God, every day, by getting up in the morning and continuing to take your next breath, by pursuing Him with your questions, by holding on to hope."

i'm standing on some pretty shaky faith-ground right now. it's very scary and foreign to me. my God, and faith in Him, has always been like a solid rock. my life's total constant. i love worship, and absolutely everything (and One) about it. i love church. i miss this huge part of my life.

i feel like i'm not me anymore.

prayer has been a tough one for me lately, too. again, prayer has always been to me, very personal, because my relationship with my Lord is very personal. and just like in almost every other relationship where i feel hurt, i have been giving God the silent treatment. there was nothing i felt i had the strength enough to ask or petition for. (how am i supposed to go before God and say, "bless this food to my body" or "protect us from evil" when my most heartfelt, deepest desire and prayer, the physical healing of my son, wasn't fulfilled?)

however, i believe prayer isn't all about asking God for things, or just getting what we want, and i'm realizing more and more how that's not the purpose of prayer, at its core. (i've "known" that all my life, but it's now settling in to my foundation of beliefs.)

so, this sunday. john and i back at church. i was nervous. (i knew i was going to be very emotional and people might stare awkwardly.) i was curious. (had we given ourselves enough time or am i still going to be too much of a zombie and have another out of body experience while "participating" in worship?)

but thank goodness, john remembered that this particular sunday was worship through music. something our church does two times a year, where the entire service is music, with some scripture and encouragements along the way. it was a perfect ease back into a once familiar environment. and how emotional could i get to "o little town of bethlehem"?

but about halfway through the service, my heart found it's first prayer in six months through this song...

O Living Word, please come dwell in us
Lord wipe away these tears
O ancient Son so long foretold
We're desperate souls, draw near

Our Shepherd King, please come and dwell with us
To fields of grace, lead on

And we will stand,
Securely in the strength of the Lord
Every heart will surely come and adore
The Great I Am

We need You now
Break our chains by Your glory and power
Make us captive to the holy desire
Come to us, O Lord
Come to us, O Lord

Prince of Peace, Emmanuel
Lord draw us close unto Thyself
King of Kings, God's chosen One
We need You now, to Thee we run***

"come to us, o Lord" - these five words are the only prayer i'm able to pray right now.

and isn't this the heart of christmas? Jesus coming. i understand its meaning this year in a way i never, ever truly grasped. we have a God who came to be with us. Emmanuel, God with us.

he joined us on earth. he suffered along side us.

and i'm desperate for this God who is near, because there is no way i can get through this hell on my own.

praise God for a God who didn't stay distant, protected from pain and brokenness. praise God for a God who loves us too much to ditch us in our weakness. 

praise God i don't have to do life on my own, in my own strength.

so come, Lord Jesus, with your powerful peace and presence. i need You.

***song by young oceans 


  1. If you ever want to get together to talk or pray or ask for prayer requests, never hesitate. You're so honest and real in these posts where it could be much easier to tell another story. You're saying what other's will not say, and I believe someone will greatly benefit from your honesty. There are people out there, all over the place, going through hurt or healing and are in need of God. Stay strong - your sister in Christ.

  2. McCayla I love your words of true raw honesty. I have no idea what words to offer you. What I do know is that I love the beauty of the vulnerability with which you are sharing your story. The richness of expressing your grief, anger, hurt and yet hope is to be admired. Praying for you all.

  3. Some thoughts:
    That's one wise friend.
    Faith is much stronger than understanding, because it has to be. When nothing makes sense, faith can still grow and help to sustain us.
    You are in good company (throughout the world) in all of this.
    Your faithfulness is remarkable and extraordinary.
    I love that you have let yourself skip church when you need to. Any real relationship includes flexibility and responsiveness. God is no exception.
    Hang in there.

  4. McCayla - I attended Whitworth with you and while we may have never met personally I've followed your story through some other Facebook friends. I've been praying for you and your husband and am so encouraged by your faith. I agree with your friend and would also like to offer that while you may have trouble praying, you are surrounded by a family of believers that are praying you through this. The beautiful thing about faith is that others can carry you when you don't have the strength. A friend told me this while I was struggling with some things at church years ago and I really believe that the prayers of the faithful will carry you when you don't have the words. God knows your heart, and it is sweet, caring and stronger than you may be able to see at this time. Your stories have encouraged me and I have shared your story and your words with my church's council which I'm on. They are also praying for you as you journey through this most wretched time.
    Praying for you.

  5. MC- what you say is what so many others (including me) have felt or feel right now and can't express. your words and your prayers are so inspirational, even though I know you didn't intend them to be - you are just pouring out your heart. I love you and think of you and John so much! Anne