Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The words don't matter

I do some of my best praying while I'm scrubbing a floor on my hands and knees. Prayer doesn't just make the time go faster, it gives me an even more precise sense of purpose for the task at hand. I'm not just scrubbing a floor, I'm asking God to be present, however He is needed, in that home.

I encourage all of my employees to pray for each of the families they serve. My hope is that, if and when they do so, they will be blessed by what happens in their lives as well as the lives of the families they serve.

If I have cleaned your house, I have prayed for you.

One day this week though, my prayers for one client didn't go as usual...

She greeted me with a teary smile. She had a scary newly diagnosed health problem with no answers yet. Just waiting. A little teary myself, I gave her a hug and told her I would be praying for her... and went about my routine.

As I scrubbed the kitchen floor and started praying, I knew I hadn't quite said what I was supposed to. I wasn't supposed to pray for her. She needed someone to pray WITH her. I continued to clean and pray, all the while thinking, maybe I could come up with something else. Surely I can't just come out and ask her if I can pray for her... and do it... right there in the living room. What if she says no? Maybe I'll send her a card... or just give her an extra hug on the way out.

To be honest, I wasn't worried that she would be offended. I knew she wouldn't say no. Which means I would have to pray for her, out loud, where I could be heard, and where she might hear me stumble over my words, misquote a Biblical reference, say the wrong thing, mostly just mess it up...

As I was getting ready to leave she again brought up her fear of what might happen... and I knew I had to.

The prayer wasn't long. I asked for peace and healing for her and knowledge for the doctors and thanked Him for being in control of the situation even when it seems like nobody is. Then I gave her one more hug, and I left for my next house.

I always have two worries when it comes to praying out loud. First of all is the fear that if someone hears me pray they will hear the mistakes and the stumbles and the way my mind works faster than my mouth and how I confuse myself, forgetting to say things I should and repeating things I've already said. The second fear is just that general fear of unworthiness... who am I to be praying for others?

But as I was driving away, a thought occurred to me. The prayer that had just been said in that house had very little to do with my words... it had very little to do with me at all.

God used me to remind her that she is loved and He is in control.

When it comes to prayer, the way the words came out aren't important. The words themselves are not important. The people are important, those who are willing to do as He asks and those they are ministering to. The obedience is important. The love is important. The faith is important.

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these.” ~Mark 12:30-31

I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ. ~Galatians 3:5

~Mark Batterson