when I am learning to worry heaven (on prayer)

We have been worrying heaven on your behalf!

She says this laughing from the pulpit, voice bright with the joy of a Sunday morning, and the congregation shouts sings nods claps its approval, its affirmation. We have been worrying heaven on your behalf. We have been up at night and during the day, in the midst of our praising and our praying, telling heaven about you, reminding heaven about you, worrying heaven for you.

How long has it been since I worried heaven for another person?

How long since I got on my knees, face to the floor, or prayed loud in the car or on a run, how long since I was bold enough to declare that my words spoken in the name of Jesus have power? That when I’m talking to the Almighty, I believe that the Almighty is listening, is hearing, is attending to me?

Have we forgotten what it means to pray? Have I forgotten in my desire to make sure I’m contemplating the right issue or the right person or the right non-self-centered words, have I forgotten that Jesus gave me power to worry heaven for another human person?

I think about the faithful who wouldn’t let God alone, the widow who pursues the judge, the men who carry their brother to Jesus and lower him through the roof, the disciples who panic and cry out on the water, the crowds who clamor for loaves and fishes, the Israelites who wander and persist and insist with God that God has cut a covenant and God must keep it.

Why am I so timid when it comes to praying? I don’t want to sound like I want something too much or like I wouldn’t be happy if God gave me something else? I don’t want to be a bother, I don’t want to overstay my welcome in the family?

But this is what the word of God says in the stillness of my heart when I stop long enough: you cannot overstay your welcome in this family.

We have been worrying heaven on your behalf!

The courage it takes, to come bold before the throne, to come as our fullest selves, selves that persist and insist and come back again and again with the same prayers: safety for this person and life for this one, hope and patience and a new job and the truth to come out and a smoother transition and the thing that they really need.

I want to pray like that again.

I want to make my home in the tangled knot of the family of God, where we cannot overstay our welcome, where we cannot pray too much. I want to worry heaven for the ones I love.

I’ve been trying to write this blog post for weeks, and I couldn’t find the words. I’ve been sitting at the computer, waiting, and the words haven’t arrived. But the other morning, while Preston made coffee and I put off getting out of bed for as long as possible, I heard it: why are you waiting for the right words? The Spirit will teach you to pray. 

Perhaps I waited so long to write this blog post because I was hoping I could write it about how great this new way of praying is, and how much I have become good at it. And, of course, God hears that too.

I don’t know how to worry heaven or how to pray with a wild, relentless confidence. But the Spirit will teach me, will teach us.

So, courage or not, confidence or not, today I am on my knees, learning to worry heaven. And falling deeper in love with Jesus, who teaches me how.

Love,
hilary

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