Praying About the Things You Don’t Want to Talk About

Pray-Her

Prayer should never be an awkward conversation. No topic off limits. No taboos and no time limits. It shouldn’t require that I quote scripture to be heard or acknowledged. My words are holy too, though not as old as the psalmist.

In fact, they are a testament to the Good Book’s truths. Yes, I can testify. That happened to me too. The lion’s den, slept there. Red Sea, crossed that.

We are all believers, though perhaps not all high achievers, and we do our best with the faith we’ve got left after untimely deaths, divorce, miscarriages, abortions, domestic violence, family disputes, social upheaval, and way too frequent church fights.

No judgment—you should be free to say whatever you need to say to God. “Cast all your cares,” right (1 Peter 5:7)? But only in the traditional, get on your knees, close your eyes and bow your head way, right? No, some prayers are better expressed while pacing the floor. Screaming brings more clarity. Rant, rave, stomp, cry, cuss, and fuss. All words are treated equally and with equal attention. But this is not true for most of us.

Prayers modeled and offered in many churches are rote, not changing the content, just the date on the entry. We pray the “same old, same old” as if God is not listening. We greet God the same, thank God for the same thing, ask God for the same thing. Then ask God to do “a new thing.”

This is not a conversation—because it doesn’t acknowledge God’s response or better yet, our deep listening. When you pray, what do you hear God saying? This week, I prayed to the God untitled. I just couldn’t find the words to name God or maybe I didn’t have the strength to claim God as my own.

“My God” didn’t even feel good or right or natural for me.

Too detached, separated from myself and others, I mostly mumbled to the God untitled. And I talked to this God about everything though mostly spoken in one word or two. In the case of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, all I could muster was the word “justice.” I thought my lips would crack open if I tried to say much more and I knew that my heart would break wide open if the prayer wasn’t answered. So, I didn’t want to say much more.

It was something I didn’t want to talk about. I just wanted to leave God out. Yes, I had “prayed with my feet” in protest like Abraham Joshua Heschel and stood face-to-face with soldiers and police last summer. But asking God to intervene felt like a bridge too far. And was I really even asking God or praying for the jury? It was the latter but I was praying then that God would give them strength, courage to do the right thing.

I said one word, justice, but this is what it means: when I don’t want to talk about something, I don’t have to say much about it. One word or none at all works just fine. Because God catches all my cares and my drift whether or not my tongue rises and falls, we have an understanding, a secret prayer language so I don’t have to say a word at all.

So, if there is something that you don’t want to pray about, cry about it, sigh about it, but don’t lie about it and don’t believe the lie that God doesn’t want to hear about it. You can pray nonstop even when you don’t want to talk about it.

Reverend Starlette Thomas* is a freelance writer in Bowie, MD. She writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at www.racelessgospel.com. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and praying with her feet.

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