My faith is of the silent kind. It doesn't express itself out loud. My actual prayer life and walk with God is quite all in my head. I say silent prayers. I am so hesitant to speak my prayers. More than that, when I do, I don't feel like I'm actually praying. It is just so much more real in my head. I think this is a real lack of faith on my part. And it has been brought to my attention repeatedly over the last week.
It started with a morning devotion from James McDonald titled "Turn It Up". He used this scripture to make his point:
"To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. 2Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary."— Psalm 28:1-2
The devotion also references the book by Bill Gothard entitled The Power of Crying Out. In this book the author brings to light the many times in scripture we are called to "cry out to the Lord" and "lift our voices."
Now of course I can cry out to God while praying in my head and I can lift up my voice in a loud but silent prayer, but I just knew this isn't what God was saying in these scriptures. James MacDonald points out "The Scripture does not tell us to think our prayers, or to whisper our
prayers, or to even speak our prayers—but we are to call out! And if
there's something lacking in our prayers, it may be the fervency that
I felt convicted. While I pray regularly now, my prayer life doesn't feel passionate. Perhaps volume really is what is lacking. That night as I lay awake in bed I couldn't get the thought from my head. I felt the Holy Spirit lead me to pray out loud but I became self- conscious. Alex was asleep beside me and I didn't want him to hear me. I began to whisper a prayer and Alex turned. I immediately quieted but felt so uncomfortable. I knew I should say a prayer out loud. So I tried again and Alex flipped over.
"What?" he said.
"Nothing!" I immediately exclaimed, embarrassed that he heard me.
"Oh," he said, "I thought I was talking in my sleep."
I wanted to joke, "No, silly, that was just me trying to pray and doing a really bad job of it!" But I was silent. And then I quietly asked the Holy Spirit to not be quiet in my life. I am always afraid that when I don't follow the guidance I am given, that it will be that much more difficult to hear it later. If I squelch the spirit now, when I can hear loud and clear, then will it be as loud and clear next time? How much harder will I have to listen to hear?
I will confess, this year has seen a prayer regression. Alex and I used to pray out loud together before every meal. Years ago we used to even pray out loud together before bed. This year I have shied away from all of these rituals, chiding them as just meaningless routines. So all spoken prayers have ceased in our house and while Alex and I have very strong individual prayer lives, our joint prayer life is neglected.
Sunday morning I was made aware of my lacking prayer life once again. As Doug spoke in church about the will of God, he made the point that it is important to pray with other Christians. He went on to strongly encourage couples to pray together. It wasn't just an encouragement but an urging. I know how strong prayer can be in marriage. But it is so difficult for me to pray out loud. I feel embarrassed when I do which inhibits my ability to really speak to God, so I shy away from out loud prayers, even with Alex. But doesn't everything become easier with practice. I know the only way to get around my inhibitions is to just suck it up and do it.
I'm scared. I'm nervous. It seems like such a silly thing to be afraid of: to just say a prayer out loud. To just pray with Alex. But it is so hard for me to do. I want my faith to be real and tangible. Not just in my head, but all around me. Feeling comfortable talking to God in a spoken or "cried out" prayer will help to strengthen my faith. I just need to give it some practice and I'm sure it won't be as difficult as I am making it!
*Praise* So I typed this post out on Sunday evening. And when Alex got home from class I proceeded to express how unexcited I was about the week to come, that I was feeling really blah, feeling like I could be spiraling down into a little depressive bout. I didn't want it to happen, and he asked me how we can head it off. I shook my head unsure and he asked me if we could pray together. Suddenly I had no choice but to step out of my comfort zone and just do it. We prayed together, out loud, taking turns, praying for all sorts of things. It was so intimate and meaningful and real. We didn't set a commitment to continue this practice. I don't want to make it into a simple routine thing that we just do to check off a list. I want it to always feel like it did on Sunday night. The point is, we did it and it was awesome!