When I was a young woman, I prayed my first dangerous prayer. I was a beginner really, just learning how to pray scripture. It changed the Bible from a story, to a powerful tool of intercession. Why pray my own words when I could pray the words of God? His are so much more powerful and they never return void. Made sense to me. Eventually, I had someone teach me, but the first one just rolled off my lips one day in my dorm room. I remember, I was reading in Psalms and when I read this verse my heart leapt and I prayed.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17
So, out loud I said, ‘Lord, give me a broken heart and a contrite spirit so I can give them to you.’
It was a simple, but heartfelt prayer. The earth did not shake. There was no audible voice. Nothing happened at all. I was tired of my surface level Christianity and it was either go deeper to find something genuine or walk away. In that moment, I felt the choice for me was to go deeper with God and somehow this verse spoke to my soul so my mouth spoke it, too.
Fast forward a few years. I was sitting in an ICU waiting room praying for my husband to live. I had seen his head smashed. I had heard his crazy ramblings. I knew it was bad, I had no clue how bad, but it was obvious we were in serious trouble. I was crying out to God for a miracle. I wanted the get-out-of-bed-and-walk-out-of-the-hospital kind of miracle. The get-back-to-life-as-normal kind of miracle. The bring-out-the-news-crews kind of miracle. I imagined telling the world how God had saved my husband’s life and giving him full credit, but that isn’t what happened.
Days in the hospital turned into weeks, then into months. My husband was NOT himself, in fact, he was the opposite. Every day, I sunk a little lower. I cried a little more. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I asked the questions we all ask in moments of suffering; Why me? Why him? Why is this happening to us? Why don’t you do a spectacular miracle? I hadn’t learned yet that asking why in a crisis isn’t helpful, but this one time, I got an answer to the unanswerable question.
“You gave me permission.”
“Pardon me, I did not! I never asked for an accident, or a brain damaged husband, or the horrific path I am on.”
And then, a memory surfaced of me sitting on my bed in my dorm room all those years ago, praying for a broken heart and a contrite spirit. In fact, I had asked for this. Not in this way, but I guess when I was praying I didn’t consider what it would take to obtain a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I was simply praying what I thought to be a “Godly” prayer. Never did I imagine he would take me at my word…or I should say, His word.
It was a lesson learned. Be careful what you pray. I hesitate now before I pray for patience. I wait before praying for trust. I think about what I am going to say before I say it, not out of fear exactly, but more out of reverence. Prayer is not a joke…it is not casual or flippant. It is a real interaction with the creator of the universe and that is serious business.
Praying scripture is one way, but did you know songs are also prayers? When we worship and sing those choruses over and over, that is a prayer. A corporate one. It is why worshiping together is so powerful. Have you thought about the lyrics of some of the songs we sing? We are giving him permission. Here’s one example, how about Oceans?
The chorus goes like this:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
Did you know we were giving him permission? We have all “prayed” this prayer and many others over and over and over, for years! Now he is doing it. Taking us to a place of trust without borders. A deep place where our faith will grow stronger. We didn’t quite think it would be a pandemic or an economy crash. We didn’t really think at all what it would take for our trust to be without borders. Now, here we sit…a crisis without borders. A crisis of epic proportions. Global in its scope. Bringing us to our knees.
The church has been praying for a revival for years, but did we think of what it might look like? Did we consider that turning back to God starts with recognizing our need for him? And recognizing our need for him comes through brokenness? Did we think that we would be immune from the brokenness required?
We were hoping for the walk-out-of-the-fire-unscathed type revival. The I-don’t-want-to-be-uncomfortable kind. Ah…but that isn’t what we prayed for. We asked for the fire of God to fall and so here we are. The fire of affliction is exposing our souls, and we don’t like it much. We are already asking for relief, but judgement begins in the house of God, so here we go friends. It starts in my very own house.
Now, I have some dangerous prayers on my heart to pray. The kind I don’t want to pray, because I know what it means. I am on my face and asking to be released from praying these prayers. The release hasn’t come. And so I pray, with fear and trembling, the words of God.
I have my own plans, but I ask that your purpose would prevail. That my time in isolation would not be lifted until your purposes are fulfilled and my heart is humbled. Search me and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts and see if there is any offensive way in me. Lead me in your way everlasting. I know that no purpose of yours can be thwarted because you can use all things to turn hearts. I know you have raised me up for this time and that you will show your power and that your name will be proclaimed in all the earth through this crisis. Help me to see your heart for others. Your love for the world is huge, help me to feel what you feel. Help me to know you like I never have before. Give me your strength to survive what is coming and the courage to pray and speak your words. Amen.
And now, after the prayer, the urgent words burning in me are these:
“Quickly, get down! Get on your face! Get on your face!”