Prayer, Creativity & Faith

You don’t mean me, do you?

Picture this scene. It’s a Sunday night church service, and a small group of “regulars” stand in front of the altar while music plays. One after another, we lay hands on people and pray. A woman comes up, her head wrapped in a scarf to hide her bald head. She has cancer, and she wants prayer. I pray, calling out to God to heal her, to let her feel His presence, and for God to put the right people in her life, people who can help her with the everyday things. And suddenly, my mind shuts out all the noise but this one thought: “You’re a person.”

It’s not enough just to ask for God to provide people to help someone. Sometimes we have to be willing to step forward and do the things that nobody else is doing.

I wish I could say I changed her life. I wish I could say that I did all of these caring, generous things. I made some efforts—offered help, bought her new head scarves, gave her some money. But somehow, that’s all I did. In my defense, I think I tried, but for whatever reason—inability to coordinate schedules, or something—I didn’t actually do much.

Years later, remembering this makes me feel embarrassed. How many opportunities have I missed to show someone kindness, to let them know they’re not alone?

How many times have I thought “someone else will do it so I don’t have to”?

More than I want to admit.

I wrote an article for Crosswalk recently called Three Things Jesus Didn’t Pray For. And one of them really stood out to me. When someone asked for healing, Jesus didn’t pray. He didn’t tell them he’d pray about it and get back to them. He healed them. Prayer was not a reason or excuse to delay. It was simple. They asked, and He answered.

If only it were that easy! If only I could miraculously banish cancer and disease and illness with a touch.

But Jesus said whoever believes in Him will do the works He did—and even greater things than these (John 14:12-14).

I believe that in abstract terms. I do. When I pray, I give myself over to the belief that God will heal. That He has given us power to act in His name. That we can still be part of miracles. When I offer myself to God, again and again, I ask Him to use me.

Sometimes, I think He does. And sometimes I willfully refuse to hear Him when He nudges me out of my comfort zone. I justify my inaction—I’m busy. I’m not equipped. I don’t know that person very well. I feel awkward. They’ll think I’m weird. Maybe I can find someone else to do it. I don’t know how to (fill in the blank).

We do need to set boundaries, and we have to care for our families and friends and take care of our responsibilities.

But I want to be used by God.

I want to show someone the extraordinary mercy and kindness God has shown me. I want to clasp hands and pray and then watch with tears streaming down my face when the person I prayed with sees God’s answers. I long to talk about God and the things He has done. I want to be God’s hands extended, reaching out to those who feel alone or afraid or unwelcome.

And yet as I typed that last paragraph, I bit my bottom lip. Stopped typing and took a deep breath. Stared at the backspace key and considered some serious deletion. Because here’s what I know: when you ask things like this, God answers. When you want opportunities to live out your faith, you won’t be able to take a step forward without finding them blocking your path. And I’m afraid. That I won’t live up to God’s expectations, or that I’ll come across as condescending instead of compassionate. That I’ll make things worse because I don’t have the right words. That I’ll start off well and then get busy and that person will feel abandoned, not just by me, but by God, too.

But I know that I can’t let fear of failure stop me. If God wants to use me, He will give me what I need to get the job done. So tonight, I hope you’ll join me in my prayer:

Dear Lord, it’s a frightening prospect to ask to be used in this way. To know that there are so many needs out there—all around me, among friends and acquaintances and strangers—and to not know what I can do to help. So please, Lord, show me. Remind me that I don’t have to do this on my own. I don’t have to find the need, or create a problem, or even know how to fix it. I just need to lean on You and let You lead me. Connect me with people and let me share what I’ve found. And, even better, let me learn from the people You put in my path. When the load is too heavy to bear, give me strength to carry it to Your feet and then release it into Your powerful hands. When someone else’s heart breaks, and mine breaks with it, be the soothing, healing balm that will put us both back together. And whatever I do—whether it’s a huge task or the tiniest of details—walk beside me. Whisper to me. Flood my soul with Your Holy Presence. And teach me how to let You shine through me.

In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

This was written for Suzie Eller’s #liveFreeThursday linkup. The prompt: You don’t mean me, do you? Take a minute if you can to read some of the other posts at the bottom of that page. There are some really amazing women and stories among the women who have been inspired by Suzie.

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