Broken-down Poetry: only by prayer and fasting


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Saturday, April 17, 2010

only by prayer and fasting

"But if God is so good as you represent Him, and if He knows all that we need, and better far than we do ourselves, why should it be necessary to ask Him for anything?" I answer, What if He knows Prayer to be the thing we need first and most?


I never share prayer requests. I don't like to. When Dr. Huckins asks for ours in Practicum, I never make eye contact. I think it's because in youth group everyone tried to one-up each other. Your mom's sick? Well, mine just died - beat that! And I don't want you prying into my personal space.


This season has been filled with doubt. I don't know what I believe. I know some things, and those things I hang my faith on like a hat. Others, like prayer, I don't know what to make of.

But I'm going to live them out, like Jayber. This blog will testify to that.


I want to intern at Preemptive Love Coalition. I've wanted to since December. I thought God was finally going to give me a break - let me have a big story to live out. RELEVANT died. This was it.

Then, Mom said no. 

She said no in December, but I applied for the internship anyway.

She said no in February when I bought my passport.

She said no in mid-March when I got the internship.

She said sigh maybe in late March when I begged and pleaded and cried and came up with logical reasons why I should get to work with PLC in Kurdistan.

(I'm realizing how persistent I can be - to my own demise.)

So I prayed. Reluctantly. I didn't have anyone else pray except Molly, Lindsey and my college group at home. I didn't ask Dr. Huckins to pray. I didn't ask Dr. Bence to pray. I think I asked Dr. Perry to pray, but that's it. 

I didn't ask people to pray because I didn't believe in prayer.
(And maybe I still don't.)

Then Mom said that she would think about it, that she might consider letting me take the internship. She started asking me questions like how I could pay for it and how long I'd be gone. I was hopeful; I asked more people to pray.

Maybe God did have a hand in this after all.

I asked Molly to pray, of course, and Lindsey. I asked my dear friend Jason to pray and Austin and Matt. I asked the other PLC interns and the president, Jeremy, to pray. People on Twitter told me that they were praying for me and for my mom. 

I prayed for the dead saints to pray for me because that seemed like a very Catholic thing to do, even though I'm not Catholic.

And God has moved. 


I don't think God's only moving because we're praying. I don't think that's what Jesus meant when he said, "Where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them." I think that Jesus shows up when I'm alone too.

I think that praying for others and asking others to pray for you is a humbling experience.
I think it transforms you more than it spurs God to answer in your favor.


We must ask that we may receive: but that we should receive what we ask in respect of our lower needs, is not God's end in making us pray, for He could give us everything without that: to bring His child to his knee, God withholds that man may ask.


Maybe that's the point. Maybe the ask-not-because-you-have-not is God's way of getting us to talk with him. Not only that, maybe it's his way of making us rely on others, to think outside ourselves. I can't ask people to pray for me out of pride. I can't do it. I have a huge pride issue, but if you're going to pray for me, it's got to be for a legitimate reason.

I need to need you.

And praying to the saints? Maybe I should save this for another blog post, but I think there's something - uhh - transcendental about asking saints to pray for you, to intercede. Not because Christ can't do it. But because you can't do it on your own. You need help. You need the saints. Dead and alive ones.

I say this again: it's humbling. Especially for someone who doesn't like sharing prayer requests, to know that David, a follower on Twitter, is praying for me is humbling. He owes me nothing. He has no ties with me. He doesn't know my age or hair color. He just knows my situation and we share the same God.


I fast a meal a week. I don't like talking about that either because I'm afraid that sounds like I'm bragging. To help: this was Lindsey's idea.

Every Wednesday at noon I pray instead of eating. Sometimes I stay in my room; sometimes I go into the NHC chapel or sit outside; sometimes I drive to Tree of Life. Sometimes I can stay focused, sometimes I can't at all.

But I'm not eating during this time. It's just me, my "worship music" playlist, my Bible, my notebook ... (wow, this list is long) ... and God. Just us. Hungry.

Maybe this works. Maybe it's like prayer and it's more about the communion, less about the results. Who knows. I do know that when Matt texted me one Wednesday, right as I entered the chapel to tell me that he was fasting with me, I felt loved and cared for and humbled.


Mom's going to tell me Monday if I can go to Kurdistan with PLC. I'm confident that she'll say yes, but I don't know for sure. I also don't know if Dr. T is going to approve it as an internship so I can get loans to pay for it. I don't even know if CitiBank will pay for it.

So pray.


If for nothing else, for the support system it's bringing me and my family and the other interns.


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