Tag Archives: Prayer

Of Embarrassing Prayers and Naked Talks with God

I lift my hands and splash my face. My neck bends, my back follows, and I rest my hand on the cool tiles. The water streams over me, and I hit the tile with my tiny fist. My mouth opens to speak words then closes. I wash my hair instead of saying what needs to be said; maybe, just maybe, clean hair will make it easier to pray.

I pray in the shower a lot. I’m not sure if it’s the warm water, the nakedness, or the tile, or the enclosed space that serves as an usher into the Holy, but something does.

My hair is clean now, and I’m staring at my sparkly red toenails.

Please God, please. You know what’s going to happen to us if he doesn’t get this job. He needs this job. We can’t wait. So please, just please-

I look up at the showerhead in defeat, feeling confused, and I swear the soap suds on my body are made up of some mixture of guilt or shame; I can’t tell which.  

You know what, God? I feel terrible for what I just prayed. I’m here begging for you to make a way for my husband to secure this amazing job, and at the same time my best friend’s body is being eaten up by cancer.

My fist returns to tile, my weight leaning into the wall.

And God, how am I supposed to pray? How am I supposed to express day to day desires when the cry of my heart is to have some hope for a miracle of healing? My prayers today feel so trivial. On the scale of urgency and necessity: a new job for my husband or the life of my best friend. When faced with what to pray for, this doesn’t actually feel like a choice. And I’m kind of angry with you for how confused I feel.

I’m frustrated because I don’t understand how to offer up freestyle prayers anymore. I used to be able to do it all the time; it was actually all I knew. But now? Now I have prayers which are memorized, written by the saints and written in scripture, and I say them with belief in my heart. I don’t know what happens to my conviction when I venture out, away from the script, but I don’t like the way it feels. How do I pray the mundane along with the tragic? How?

The water is beginning to turn cooler, but I’m not done giving God a fist full of complaints.

What do you want from me? What should I be praying? I need a straight-up answer from you because I am standing here, feeling like a selfish idiot. How do I pray for things I want or need for my family when there are others in much greater need? God, remind me that it’s okay to lay everything out before you. It is okay, isn’t it?

I wrap the yellow towel around my body. The mirror is steamed up, and that’s okay because I don’t want to look at my face anyway. I don’t want to look at myself until I have an answer. As I slip into my clothes, I pray the only way I know how.

Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now,
And ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.

As I put on my socks, I realize why I repeat this prayer many times throughout my day. It’s a prayer of praise.

It’s a prayer with a hope and a future and an unwavering faith.

Oh. Okay. God, I’m still embarrassed and uncertain about my freestyle prayer; I’ll have to sort that out later, but right now, I think I hear you, and yes, I will continue to praise you.

***

My husband ended up getting that great job, my friend is still full of cancer, and I remain unsure of how I should be praying for you, for me, and for the world. But you know what?  I do it anyway, in all its helplessness and messiness; it’s the only way I know right now.

“No one is so advanced in prayer that they do not often have to return to the beginning.”

– St. Teresa of Avila

{Am I alone here, friends? Or do you sometimes have questions about the way of prayer, the purpose of prayer? How do you pray when you feel you cannot? Thanks for reading.}