For as long as I can remember, my mom has called me her “prayer warrior,” which meant if a pet went missing, a relative was having a medical procedure or a friend were traveling on a trip that required flying in a plane or even dealing with heavy traffic, I was called upon to “storm the heavens” with prayer. I always did so willingly, although if my mom could have heard the casual way I talked to God, she might have said my prayer life and hers were vastly different. If that were true before I started my deconstruction of faith, I wonder what she’d say now?!
I was never disrespectful in my prayers, but I might pray to God by saying “Hey, Lord, I’m feeling pretty stressed about this exam I have coming up this afternoon, and I know you already know that, but I ask you to please help me have a clear mind so the studying I’ve done won’t be in vain.” On the other hand, almost all of my mom’s prayers started with “Dear Heavenly Father, I come before your throne of grace…”
I don’t think either of those ways was wrong, but my mom’s language always felt a bit too formal for me and I always viewed God as a trustworthy friend (albeit one held in extremely high regard) and not a mighty being towering over me, the lowly, sinful Earth dweller.
For almost the past year though, I have had great difficulty even having those informal conversations with God — at least if they are to ask for things. When I hear about a friend who is going through something tragic, I can no longer say, “I’ll be praying for you,” but I DO say, “You’re in my thoughts. Let me know if you need anything.”
Perhaps that’s because, over the last while, I’ve seen a lot of Christians who seemed to JUST pray in terms of the extent to which they helped others. Despite the fact that I’m having trouble praying myself lately, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing it. However, I do have an issue with people who offer their prayers but stop short of doing anything more practical or actionable to assist people in need.
I’m in a very strange place with my prayer life, indeed. I think one of the reasons why I’m having such difficulty bringing requests to God through prayers is that doubt often creeps in. I can vividly remember myself thinking recently, “Wait, but does the God I believe in even have physical ears TO hear my prayers?” Even if He does, I’d much rather he answer the prayers of the people who are starving or hanging onto life after being victims of hate crimes rather than my prayers about having good weather for an upcoming music festival I’m attending or that I’ll get enough freelance work this month.
I have to say though, feeling like I — along with every other Christian — have a “direct line” to God is something I really miss. It made me feel empowered when I stepped out of my comfort zone, comforted when I was stressed and less alone when I was distraught. Now, the only form of “prayer” that I can manage with an honest heart and conscience usually happens when I’m in nature and it simply involves tuning into everything around me and being grateful for it, because I do believe God created it. That’s the best I can do right now, and things might stay this way for a while.