bid me, hem me, hush me, hear me
For an audio recording of this post, which has been one of my post popular essays, click here. Enjoy.
“We have to thank God for these divine moments in which he calls us to Another Life that lives inside of us, where every note is in harmony, every darkness is enlightened, every distortion is straightened, every emptiness is filled with him. And this can happen at any moment of the day. We feel there are two of us: he in me and I in him. Yet we are one: I, water from this source, a flower from this divine seed, the witness of this reality that fills my being. This indeed is living. God alone knows how to shape himself in us. We know only how to ruin it.” Chiara Lubich, Essential Writings (2007). Quoted by Leonard Sweet
I find it incredibly beautiful when my eyes fall on a paragraph that has not been announced as a prayer, but is one, and I am scooped up into it. Maybe there’s italics or a paragraph indent, so it’s not totally out of the blue. Still. Ho ho hold the phone, my soul says, this is prayer. And no matter who wrote it or when, I know it’s for me. I sit down on the inside and take part. What will they ask for us? Like when we were little and someone at mealtime took it upon themselves to say grace, but we were all still talking when we heard the stronger voice boom. “Dear heavenly Father!” elicited a lip zip and a chin drop. Shhhh, we hissed at each other.
– or just –
In seconds, the racing thoughts are lassoed because this is not just normal talk. Prayer is a lot of different things to me, but one thing it isn’t is ordinary. God says his name is the one that makes knees buckle, the one that saves, who had the first word and will have the last. Talking to him, using that name, will never be no big deal.
Praying can be intimidating, though, because it peels back the layers of our personality-driven lives, and, for a moment, we are soul to Soul, and we don’t know what will happen. After all, even for the most spiritually attuned person I know (and especially for her, I would bet), soul to Soul is a minefield – it’s complicated. What happens to me when I let there be space in my day for prayer is – whatever the heck God wants to happen. It really isn’t formulaic. Except for this one part.
It starts with him. Prayer does not begin with me storming altars with my relentless agenda – it always starts with God bidding.Tweet This
He bids, commands, and compels it first. Is that not tangible hope?
I don’t see that part or perceive it, but I am sure of it because the satisfaction of prayer is something I know I can’t take credit for. What a great source of comfort. We don’t achieve it, it happens to us. SomeOne has come first to lay a candle lined path to Himself. Inhuman peace that I usually don’t feel until I’m praying ensues and the welcome pools toward me. I am safe. I can speak freely. I know the minute I cry out, he has pre-heard the wordless longing.
Psalm 139:4 explains that,
Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.
…and Psalm 118:5 says we can know he responds,
In my distress I called on the Lord, and he heard my cry and set me free.
…but maybe it’s most like this:
Psalm 139:5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
And just like that, we’re known, and hushed. Held and heard.
That sounds like prayer to me.
(Shhhhh. Let your breath slow.
As Lewis said of Aslan, Safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.)
I want to ask for the one who is reading that you would give her surging hope in who she sees that you are right now. Spread a smile on her face that sinks and rolls down into her heart. Hem her in and bid her just like you bade Peter when he said, “Lord if it’s you, bid me come to you on the water.” And you just had one word for him. It’s the word you speak here between us. The word we yearn to hear whispered over us in your voice.
Because if we do, Lord, we know you’ll be there.
So, we thank you. For that. ~amen and amen.