Learning To Pray
January 8, 2008
September 2007, I was elected 2008 president of our UMW. I have been nervous about my decision to accept the office ever since. I’m not afraid of being a leader, I’m not afraid of public speaking, but I am scared to death of performing one of my job duties. Praying aloud, for God and everybody to hear.
I’ve prayed silently for years. I don’t do it as often as I should, but I do pray. However, even in my silent meditation, I feel inadequate. I feel like I’m rambling, or repeating the same thing over and over. I feel like I’m a one trick pony. “God, watch over me, keep me safe and healthy, watch over J, keep him safe and healthy, watch over my boys, keep them safe and healthy………….”. I feel like God’s up there rolling his eyes and saying, “is that all you got? Get on with it lady, I’ve got billions of other people to tend to”.
My oldest has me say his prayers with him every night. He tells me who to pray for, and I insert their names, one by one into my old, “keep _____ safe and healthy” dialogue. It’s so boring, that sometimes I even fall asleep while praying aloud.
My first meeting as president was last night. I was a wreck yesterday, all day, thinking about it. We open each meeting with prayer requests, then the president leads the prayer. Children aside, I haven’t prayed alound in front of another human being in 25 years. I say 25 years because I distinctly remember reciting, “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food. Amen” at the dinner table as a preschooler. However, that wasn’t praying from the heart, that was mere recitation, and I knew that memorization and stage fright are not my problem. My problem is crafting the words. My problem is the filler. I’m a very effeceint person. I don’t like filler, and I’m not good at contributing it, in any situation.
The time came, and I probably drug out the “prayer request” time longer than should be allowed, attempting to prolong the inevitable. I first warned the group about my plight, then armed with my list of names and maladies, and with sweatty palms, I asked the group to go to God in prayer. It was time to take my list and mush the names and afflictions into something that would be pleasing to God, and to my fellow group members.
I know that God understands, that he doesn’t care how you say it, so long as you say it, etc, but I CHOKED. For all the practicing I did, for all the crafting of words I put alot of thought into, I sat there staring at the names on my yellow scratch pad, only able to rattle off names and maladies. Halfway through the prayer, I realized I was doing the “be with ________, keep them safe and healthy” thing. Upon realizing this, I could only stop, mid-prayer, and gather my thoughts. The lady to my left reached over and put her hand on my back, in a sign of support, which made me become more self conscious.
I finally managed to wrap it up, and with tears in my eyes, pronounced my attempt a “train wreck”. The group members assured me that it would get easier. One even told me that if it didn’t, that if I decided I, like alot of other people, just wasn’t cut out for public prayer, I could appoint someone else to do it. I toyed with the idea of doing just that, but then I decided that I would give it a few more tries. I appreciate the offer, and I may take it, but I feel in my heart that this is something that I need to learn how to do.