When Prayer is Everything

It’s Sunday and I’m sitting on the very last row of a jet moving thousands of feet in the air (Is that true? How high do jets fly?) on my way to New Orleans. I’ve never been to New Orleans before and this was not how I intended to get there. But, here I am, flying alone, on my way to speak about prayer to 200 high school students there this week for a mission trip.

I’m not a slick speaker.

Actually,  (who for some reason I’ve yet to understand asked me to speak), doesn’t know what he’s getting. He’s taking a big risk here. So am I.

I left my boys at my parents’ home, where they will have a spectacular time. August and my mom have a calendar drawn out of how long I’ll be gone and what fun thing he will do with his cousins each day.

That doesn’t mean it was easy to leave. He cried all Sunday morning, making himself sick about my leaving. When I finally got in the car with my dad, kissed my happy, carefree 16 month old who was swinging in the back yard, my 4-year-old was screaming from his gut, falling on the ground, trying to tear himself out of his grandmother’s arms to come after me.

He may have inherited his dad’s stubbornness and opinionated nature, but my anxiety exists right alongside them. Leaving him was awful. Maybe there are some moms who would have said, I won’t do this to my kid. But, I did. I shouted that I loved him and that he would have so much fun. While he cried, I got in the car.

Later, my mom texted that he was okay, that when he asked again where I was going (we’ve talked about it over and over) and she answered that I was going to go talk to people about Jesus, he said: “Oh, I know all about Jesus. I can go help her.”

Maybe next time, buddy.

So, here I am. Feeling the deep ache of mommy guilt, even though I hear my Meemaw’s words in my head saying, “A mother should never feel guilt for leaving her kids with their grandmother. Kids having time with their grandmother is always a good thing.”

I believe Meemaw. Most of the time, when I’m not reliving August’s dramatic hurling of his body onto the lawn. And I know that what I’m doing this week is important, whether or not I’m a good speaker, whether or not I’m impressive, whether or not I’m ever asked to speak again. I love high school students. And I’m passionate about telling them the truth about prayer: How desperately God loves the worst pray-ers, like me. And them.

I’ve been sitting straight up in this back row, looking over my notes for Monday morning and thinking about the words I’m going to end on:

It is God who changes our hearts. I’ll say.

It is God who calls us to a life of honest relationship with him. Not just cleaned up words we say for 15 minutes in the morning, but a day of Everything.

God wants prayer to be everything: what you do with your hands, how your heart responds to the people around you. God wants to be invited into the moment you ride with your girlfriend in the car with the windows down. God wants to be invited into the awkward dinner conversations with your parents. God wants to be invited into your time online, your time doing homework. And, yes, God wants to be invited into the time you spend “praying” in the morning. All of it is prayer.

I’m reading those words and remembering. How am I inviting God into this flight, the smell of the airplane toilet fresh in my nose, as the door opens and shuts beside me? How am I inviting God into this moment—when I miss my husband, who I haven’t seen for the past week and I miss my kids, who I won’t see for four days? How am I inviting God into my speaking anxiety and the decisions Chris and I have to make this week and the deep unspokens in my heart?

God wants prayer to be everything, I will say.

Everything, I will whisper to myself, my eyes scanning the crowd of 16 and 17 year-olds.

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  • I am starting to understand what a life like this could look like. The “pray continually” idea always confused me, I never really understood how it worked in practise. I think it’s become clearer as I’ve struggled to find the words to pray through a hard time, and discovered myself doing just this, inviting him in to my moments, big and small. Just saying, take this, all of it, the tears and the thoughts and the steps of hope, take it all as a prayer.

  • Such a simple concept – inviting God into each moment. And so difficult to practice. I guess that’s why it’s called “practice” – it’s on-going, never finished, never perfect.

  • Linda carleton

    It is Monday morning and I said a prayer for you. I rejoice in how God is using you.

  • nancy destache

    I am a fellow momma who has a first rate “Clinger” Fo a 4 yr old…I am familiar with the gut wretching grief of leaving him screaming from his core. If it were not for the privilege of handing him over to the care of God, trusting he will be given a supernatural dose of love and comfort, I may never avtutally make it out the door. This too shall pass (my go to phrase)

  • Hi everyone (and Micha),

    I’m the Andy Cornett who didn’t know what he (and all the rest of the students and their leaders) was getting when he invited Micha to speak. (Why, Micha? Short answer – gut instinct/prompting that this was the right thing to do). Praise God for all that, because it has been remarkable. Thank you so much for coming and speaking from your heart, from Scripture, and from a heart soaked in the God who gave it to us. You have been a gift to all of us. What you have taught us is not easy, but it is worth it. Yes, Alizabeth, it is a practice – and thank God that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Only He is.
    grace and peace!

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  • Marybet

    Micha — we so appreciated your words and work with us in New Orleans. I know the students I brought down from Charlotte were truly blessed by your words each morning. You were a very brave momma to come down despite the wailing of your baby. Thank you for your faithfulness. Marybet