Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray to the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray to Lord my soul to take.
I remember saying that prayer nightly from a very young age and probably before I really even understood what the words meant.
Later in my teenage years, the prayer would change to me praying for blessings for those I loved. It went something like “God, please bless Momma, Daddy, Danny, Steve, Killer (my dog for those questioning), Grandma Gracie, Grandma Jane, and Grandpa”. I would then throw in a prayer for me to make an A on the test that was the next day……the one I had not studied for, or for some cute boy to talk to me.
These prayers continued over the years and the only thing that changed were the names.
My ex husband and I had just decided to separate after 17 years of marriage. I had been a stay at home to my 2 boys for 13 years. They were now 16 years old and almost 11 years old. How I was going to juggle working and being a single mom, how would I find a job to pay the bills with no degree or substantial work experience, and how would I protect my boys when the only world they had ever known was about to be turned upside down?
After they would go to sleep, I would lay on their floor and quietly, but violently sob. I would just cry over and over for God to protect them.
I needed God more than I have ever needed him in my life, but I had no clue what to say to him or even what to ask for. I know God knew what I needed and could hear my heart, but I longed to have words. To be able to say how I felt and ask for what I needed.
How many of you have filled out prayer request cards at church for other people, but never put your own name on that card? ME, ME, ME!!! I would pray for anyone that I knew needed prayer or asked me to pray. I was diligent with that, but for me to ask for someone to pray for me, made me feel like I was a failure or that I was weak.
I finally sent the hardest text that I have ever sent. I sent a text to 6 strong women that I knew would not judge and would pray for me faithfully. The text simply said “Please pray for me”. I can’t explain to you why it was so hard for me to send. Again, I think for me it made me feel like I was a failure and made everything that was going on in my life feel real.
I still did not know what to say to God. I started out with “God be with me”. I remember when my youngest was 4 years old, I heard his Sunday School teacher telling the little kids that no one can tell them they can not pray. They can always say a prayer in their head, no matter where they were or what they were doing. The teacher said it doesn’t have to be anymore than “God be with me”. So, that is what became my prayer several times a day.
It was almost a year later and things did not magically get better and I was still chugging along and I was trying to figure out mine and the boys new normal, when a song came on the radio that started with the words “I’m tired, I ‘m worn”. To which I yelled “me too!”. The song continued with “my heart is heavy, from the work it takes to keep on breathing”. Then I started thinking that someone had written a song about my life. I listened to every word and and it was what I was needing to say. Every word!
That night I laid my phone on the pillow next to me and played the song on loop and fell asleep. I did that every single night for many weeks. I don’t believe God learned anything about me through those words that he didn’t already know from my heart, but I needed to hear my words of what I needed and how I felt, so I think that is what I needed more than anything.
Talk to God however you need to and wherever you need to, whether it comes to you in the form of a child’s prayer, a song, or laying quietly knowing that he hears you even in the silence.
I joke now that when I go to God in prayer, he says “hold on, I need to get a cup of coffee and get in my recliner, because this is going to be a while”. I ramble on and take several random detours, but I talk to God like a friend sitting across from me. And just like when I didn’t have the words, he still hears my heart through all of the rambling.