after carpet suckles my knees
for five minutes
i realize i do not have words to pray—
someone advised just say Jesus
but what if i’m afraid
when i say His name
every demon inside me will bust flesh
like budding flowers leaving root around my ribcage,
me open and eyes exposed to the blackness I let cement my heart—
simply put, i have been my own god—a bad god.
when i prayed to myself,
ears clogged to my needs with dead, mahogany lusts—
i try to swab the blockage away
but only push the filth farther in
and these scales and planks
in the shape of everything
i have stacked above Him
keep my tongue wet.
no fingers dipped in clay can remove these blinders
driven into my eyes like pyramids
8 minutes now—the ground swaddles leg and knee
without a word upward.
convinces me to give up and go my own way
and about the 9th minute?…9th…9th…hour
i cry out with a loud voice, saying,
“Eli, Eli lama sabachthani”
that is to say
My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?
but who has forsaken whom?
the girl-god spine-cracked into submission—
Eli, Eli lama sabachthani she repeats
My God, My God…
i am earth
You are God, above—The God
come, comet crumbed chest
destroying root and branch
bludgeoning my cove
a hole large enough to carry You
a planned falling out
passionless to where the pieces land
knowing they will be wholly replaced
by the holy God.
This week at church we’re having a youth week of prayer. As a part of that, tonight our leader asked for an older adult and a young person to pair off, and the older person was to pray for the younger. It’s a wonderful thing to be prayed for by an older person–a wiser person person in general. My person has one of the warmest, deliberate voices I’ve ever heard, and her hands were so soft as they wrapped themselves around mine. I can still smell her perfume between my fingers.
To hear someone ask God to bless you and keep you safe, and guide you and show you what to do, is an awesome feeling. I don’t think we pray for each other enough though. Do we know how to pray for others? I once had a friend who said she felt so inadequate while she was doing her nightly prayers. She felt that there were so many things and people to pray for, that she could never get them all in, so after a while of praying, she’d just say, “You know the rest."
I agree that sometimes it seems like the prayer list can seem so long. You have to pray for all the stuff going on in your life, and all the stuff going on in others’ lives who have asked you to pray for them, and even those who haven’t asked. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t fallen asleep during my own prayers before. But why does prayer seem so tedious sometimes? We should feel privileged to come before the Creator of the universe and everything in it, who has allowed us to come before Him with boldness, but we waste it sometimes.
So I guess my final question is: how can we get past ourselves to pray?
I’m tired of seeing this everywhere. Have we been tricked into believing a prayer is sent up every time someone likes a picture, reducing communication with God to the click of a mouse or a trackpad? Just because someone likes something, doesn’t mean they’re going to pray about it, or that a prayer miraculously reaches heaven.
Sunday I played a song at a fundraising rally that my aunt organizes for her church every year. I sang, “All I Can Say” by the David Crowder*Band in memory of my deceased friend. She had come with me the previous year. When I told the audience her story I heard a unified, “awwww,” which made me feel weird—like I was being pitied. After this I began the opening chords. As the song progressed I really felt it, it wasn’t the best I’d ever performed, but it was my best at the time. And like the song says, that’s all I could give at that moment. But it went well, and on the second verse I heard the bluesy wah of the lead join in with me and the drums followed, lightly tapping the snare and cymbal. When I finished,everyone gave me a standing ovation; at least most everyone. It’s kind of a blur since I tend to look away when I finish a performance, somehow not looking into the audiences faces after a performance means they can’t see me (I hate being in the spotlight. I know, I know…why am I doing this then?).
After I sat, it was time for the choir sing. The lead singer started singing with the most powerful, melodic voice you’d ever want to hear. She dug deep, yet made it look and sound so effortless. As “Break Every Chain” echoed though the walls of the building some called out—amens, hallelujahs, clapping—but I just sat. I sat and I thought. I thought about my friend. I realized that her death, even though it happened a while ago is still a chain on my life that needs to be broken. I miss her a lot. Sitting there, having this realization, I was about to cry, but I stopped myself—foolish pride. I thought,If I let myself cry right now, I know I’ll feel better. But I hate crying—especially in front of people. So I resolved to just sit and listen and hold it in. I wish I could have let go at that moment; let go of every burden on my life that I keep saying I want to give to God, that I keep praying I want to give up, but still hold on to when it’s all said and done. It all comes down to pride. Right now, pride must cease. Things would be so much better if pride were a thing that sin never brought into existence.