Where Prayer Meets the Road

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We talk about prayer as if it is always easy, like it presents no complications. No experience required. Anyone can do it. Our prayer directions read: bow head, close eyes, fold hands, and add words.

“It’s a conversation.” “Relax, you’re just talking to God.” Like family, God is an easy audience, all ears, leaning in with elbows on the Communion table. With the omnipresent, you have a captive audience. Where could God go and not hear us?

But, when there is a lump in your breast, a lump in your throat forms. When there is a bump in the road and you stump your toe while walking with Jesus, you realize that open-toed sandals may not have been a good choice. You also accept that walking in Jesus’ footsteps is not as easy as 1, 2, 3.

During a retreat that I was co-facilitating, I sat a table with deacons who shared their struggles and their need for support from each other. One woman was battling stage four cancer. One man was now the caregiver for his wife who was suffering from the same dire prognosis. Another man was now divorced after 49 years of marriage. They were all trying to find words to talk about their relationship with God after these unexpected and unfortunate events.

What do we say now? Because it is easy to go through the motions of worship: sit, stand, sit, pray, stand, sing, sit, get up and leave. But, how can you speak to God when you have a complaint about how your relationship is going? When life with Christ is not what you expected?

God is good. God is perfect. God does all things well. So, who wants to bring up an issue that may call into question God’s record or suggest that God might have a customer service problem? Who has the guts to say to the pastor after service, “I want to speak to you about your God?”

While the Bible does not read like a brochure for discount vacation destinations, it is still hard to look on the bright side when we suffer. Prayer is a mode of transportation. Each conversation compels and propels us forward.

But, when there are no words or when it seems that our words have not worked, we realize that prayer is not an incantation, that God is not spellbound. And if we are patient, we will discover that there is another way around. This is where prayer meets the road.

Reverend Starlette Thomas* is an associate pastor at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland and the Minister to Empower Congregations at the D.C. Baptist Convention. She writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at www.racelessgospel.com. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and Starbucks.

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