Word Nerd at Prayer

I am the first to admit that I am not great at prayer, which might not be a problem for you, except that I am the pastor of a congregation, and with that comes a certain expectation that I will also be a good pray-er, that I will be devoted to my inner spiritual well-being, that I have set aside time each day to bask in the presence of God.

I intend to, I do.  But….

So the other night I was in bed, lights were out, and I was trying to fall asleep but couldn’t, so I decided to pray (since, frankly, prayer often does put me to sleep.) I am still ruminating on the murders at Newtown, and as the mother of a six-year-old, I’m having trouble letting it all go. So I’m praying for my daughter, and I ask God to protect her and guide her and to help me keep her-

Then I derail. “No,” I’m thinking to myself, “Keep isn’t the right word. It’s not a good word to use before God. ‘Keep’ suggests control, and I don’t want to control her; what’s the right verb?” And off I go into my little cranial thesaurus, all thoughts of God swept to the wayside.

It’s a privilege to love words and the Word. I love that my calling lets me use words all the time – words for prayer and for sermons, words for classes, even knowing when no word is appropriate. Maybe that’s a gift from God, and maybe God understands if my prayer gets derailed by my verbal crisis. After all, as the poet of Genesis 1 says, God used words to make the world.

Or I could be completely wrong about all of this, have ticked God off by my inattentiveness, and await the word of condemnation from on high.


4 thoughts on “Word Nerd at Prayer

  1. My suspicion is that God is pleased with your attentiveness, and your congregation as well. And for what it’s worth, I agree with your hesitance to use the word “keep.” The word that comes to my mind as a replacement is “Help me to be a good steward of this amazing gift…” Well done, Beth. I’m glad to see you blogging. Peace and many blessings to you.


  2. Personally, I think it is all prayer – every word, ever distraction, every thought – so long as you acknowledge that God is the conversation partner and companion to those words, distractions, and thoughts. That’s why I find that invoking or greeting God is the switch that kicks me into “unceasing prayer” mode.

  3. I have often hoped that God is able to take my words and make more sense of them than I can. Perhaps one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is translator… and living thesaurus.
    Thanks for sharing Beth.


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