Thursday, March 18, 2021

The People We Pray Quietly For

When I was a teenager, I loved attending Sunday night church. Sunday morning church services had a certain feeling. To me, there was a formality, a reverence to the gathering time. Sunday evenings, on the other hand, were more casual. I could wear jeans and a sweater. The format varied from week to week, and sometimes we had extended periods of prayer. As I think about it, I'm pretty confident that every week the pastor would call for people to share their prayer requests.

Figuratively, and sometimes literally, there were prayer requests shouted out. My neighbor is dying. My child is straying. I'm facing unemployment. My back is acting up.  Sometimes there was another kind of prayer request. This other kind was different.  For any number of reasons a person would not share the details of his or her prayer request. A person would just say: Unspoken.

I always struggled with unspoken prayer requests. Of course my teenage self wanted to know what gossip-worthy thing was happening in the person's life. Not that I intended to gossip. I just wanted to know. My adult self knows better. My adult self now understands.

The unspoken prayers were the ones that were most personal to you.

The unspoken prayers were the ones you didn't want to utter because it would make them true.

The unspoken prayers were the ones you couldn't even whisper.

But I thank God He knows our innermost thoughts.  He is the God who hears our prayers when the words come out as unintelligible screams and when they can't be whispered, when they come out unspoken.  Yes, He is the God of the whisper.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart
and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
(1 Kings 19:11-12, NIV)

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