I’m grateful I grew up knowing the importance of prayer. Now granted, sometimes I was a little OCD about it. My first prayer journal was a binder with color-coded tabs, one for each kind of prayer. And I dutifully moved through them in order, listing prayers with bullet points. I felt like I had to pray, and get it right, or else.
Thankfully, as I grew in my understanding of and relationship with God, I could move beyond the binder. I came to believe that what God most wanted, was not our carefully formulated words, or our perfectly orchestrated discipline, but us. And not just our more attractive parts like our gratitude and our concerns for people in need, but also our struggles and questions and parts of ourselves we would prefer to ignore, and hope God does too.
It’s tempting to wait to come to God until we clean up our act, get ourselves put together, have something nice to present. Who wouldn’t rather show up at God’s doorstep with a bunch of flowers than with a pile of mess?
But Jesus said it so clearly, Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
Of course, we all need God. Some of us simply don’t think we do. Or we forget.
But occasionally we are nudged into remembering: God wants us, wants all of us. Wants us when we’re skipping on sunshine, and when we’re pacing the halls or pinned to the bathroom floor. When we’re so ecstatic we can’t contain ourselves, and when we’re so grief-stricken we can’t contain ourselves. Maybe in those moments, we can hear a gentle voice saying, It’s okay. I’ve got you. Here now, let me have that. I can hold it.
Perhaps the sickness is not so much what we think or feel or do, but the trying to carry and manage and fix it all on our own.
Prayer is letting God have it. And the more of it the better, if you ask me.