Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I’m in one of those phases when I couldn’t pray if you paid me. The other night I was trying to go to sleep but feeling like I really, really needed to communicate with God. My mind started drifting, not to sleep of course, but thinking about my grocery list and wondering how I would manage packing my household and moving across the country. So I reigned myself in, pleading with God to still my mind and let me sleep. And I prayed, like a child, “Now I lay me down to sleep . . . if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” No, stop! Can prayer be a means of torture? Could someone please explain to me why little children were taught that prayer? I’ve seen vintage embroidered things hanging on children’s walls with that prayer on them. Child abuse! They might as well have painted the on the wall the angel of death, with his deadly sickle. They could have put a live shark under the bed. My son feared having a shark under his bed. Perhaps his fears were justified. I was awake until after 4 a.m. thinking the Lord might take my soul if I should die before I wake. And what would happen to that soul of mine since I’m in a doubting phase? As dawn was approaching I finally gave in and thought it might be a relief to die before I wake. The alternate way of handing that dilemma is NEVER go to sleep.

But I’m feeling like a poor excuse for a Christian, like I have no business writing a blog that has anything to do with prayer. I’m a phony, a sham, don’t pay attention to anything I say.

The truth is sometimes I don’t know if I even believe. I want to believe, trust me. My life would be infinitely better if I believed beyond a reasonable doubt. I want there to be a God—a real God with a capital letter G, not just some higher power sort of god who exists in nature and who is just another word for love. No. I’m not interested in the “spiritual but not religious” kind of god. I want God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit—the whole Trinity of the one God. (A concept I can neither understand or explain but I love because it is so mysterious.)

No, it’s not working. I need to feel some communication. I need to feel that God is like my imaginary neighbor Manny (short for Emmanuel)—a guy who can tell you what’s wrong with you lawn, and change your flat tire, and tell you to be patient because things will get better. He’s a sweet guy, Manny. When my brother was murdered and I didn’t think I could drive 50 miles to my mother’s house to tell her, I would have gone knocking on Manny’s door. And Manny would have driven me to Maryland and explained to me that God is good, always good, and that God’s heart was broken just seeing my pain.

And Manny would sit down with me now, make me a cup of tea and tell me that I’m not alone. He would give me good advice when I ask him for it, and he would listen quietly when I just need to vent. And he when he tells me not to be afraid, miraculously I won’t be afraid.

I’m a believer with doubts. Sometimes big doubts, at other times smaller doubts. I know that the way through this is just to pray, to throw myself into the arms of a loving God and trust that He will catch me.

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