When my prayers feel worn…

We sit in momentary silence.
The wind howls through the trees and sings an eerie yet alluring song.
I love storms and the mysterious power they unleash around me.
But tonight I am grateful for the flames.
For the heat. For shelter.

We have gathered to pray. Because the storms of life are bigger than we are.
My heart feels like a chunk of concrete tonight.
In spite of the joys and laughter and many gifts today, now that I pause,
I am silent.
Except for the howling of the storm. It seems to flutter through my soul, this ache.
This isn’t how it is meant to be, this longing.

These prayers we bring again. I say the words I’ve said countless times.
Don’t you get tired of them, God?
Whispered again and again, I grasp for deeper meaning to the words of my heart.
Old worn shoes, these prayers feel tired.
Like I’ve walked in them and walked in them till the soles lose all tread.
These prayers. These hands.
I look down and see the grime of the day, still there under the nails.
I start scraping.

 The storm. The age old words. The grime.

 And yet he stands and holds out his hand.
In the storm, the wind ripping at his hair, stealing the words off his lips too.
The boat pitches and shutters beneath his feet.

Come.
Ask.
Believe.

But I’ve done it a million times. You’ve heard it all.
I’m at a loss for words. In this, my inability, still to come?
I look down into these hands, still gritty from my days work, and see emptiness.
How is it that you don’t tire of the coming, or the asking?

I have nothing to offer, tonight.
Nothing. No new song, or a heart fully trusting. No new verse full of promise.
Just me. Just this heart wracked with questions and longing.
But this seed of hope. In the storm, in the shrieking wind, I know.

Not the answers to my questions.
Not an understanding of why these prayers remain unanswered.
But a confidence in You. Your unfailingness. Your perfection.
Perfection? I look at the worn out shoes and tired, dirty hands, and catch my breath.
Where I sighed at the wear and tear, you smile at the effort.
These words that I’ve said again and again,
don’t grow old, but grow into an offering of faith.
You see hope where I see nothing.

Image

As my tired eyes focus on you, above the groaning trees and churning clouds,
these prayers slide from my attention.
I see you, so much bigger than life, than me, than my unanswered prayers.
I see you, the One who split the Red Sea,
who breathed life into my child,
who touches my cold heart and fills me with your life.

I lift my hands to you, with grit and grime, lifted in confidence now.
In the coming, in the labor, in the worn out prayers,
seeing now you are working priceless lessons on my heart.
It’s not futile, this season of walking by faith, and not by sight.

So I thank you for the worn words, calloused hands,
and the lessons that you are stamping deep on my heart, here,
in the storm.

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