PRAYING THE RIGHT WORDS
It was a Tuesday around 11:45pm. My phone rang. It was Mick. He wasn’t okay. “Can I come over?”
“Sure thing,” I told him.
He’d been “not okay” before. But this sounded different. I heard it in his voice, which was more desperate than in previous calls. More than that, he had asked to come by. Mick was normally happy to talk on the phone.
I woke my roommate to let him know we were going to have company. A half hour later, we opened the door to find Mick in tears and soaked by the rain. For the next hour or so, he unpacked his last few months. He was coming to grips with what he would eventually call alcoholism. Having not worked through a program myself, I asked him if I could pass his information along to a friend who had.
“Can we pray?” I asked.
“Yeah, I really need that,” he said.
This led to one of the most profound, meaningful and comical moments in my history as a pastor. Mick was not a churchgoer and had never been trained in religious language. So when he opened his mouth and started talking to God, it sounded…well, “untraditional.” I won’t repeat what he prayed. I don’t want to break YouVersion.
My roommate looked at me as if he’d heard gunfire. Those were not the kind of words he was used to hearing in his Christian upbringing. They were the kinds of words one hears at a bar. But that makes sense, doesn’t it? That’s where Mick just came from. In other words, that’s where he was coming from.
Had Mick been asked to clean up his language before bringing his prayer to the One who loves him perfectly, Mick might never have shown up at all. In fact, isn’t there something backwards about having to approach correctly the One who loves you perfectly? Instead, doesn’t a perfect love simply invite you to show up as you are and then help you move on from there?
What’s in your heart? What are you thinking and feeling? Pray that as it is.
Don’t let thinking you have to have “the right words” keep you from praying.
Sometimes, the right words are very simply the words you have on hand and available at the time. Bring those. Be heard. Be loved. Then be changed and transformed.