I don’t remember much about Edith.
She sat near the front of our gymnasium church, though I only remember her standing. She was gray-haired, slight, her skirt fell well past her knees. Her hands were always raised. Something told me she was gutsy and bold, but I don’t recall ever sharing words with her. She fell in and out of my line of vision while I tried not to fidget in my seat, wondering why I didn’t feel the things everyone around me seemed to feel, feeling guilty that God was somewhere past my reach.
People described her as a Prayer Warrior. I could tell by the way the words fell from my parents’ lips, it was capital P, capital W. There was reverence there. I pictured her in a bare room in her dowdy skirt, shaking her fists at heaven, calling out every wrong thing, waging war for days on end, throat parched, body tired. Warrior.
Prayer was the air I was taught to breathe. They said it gave life, thwarted death. It did things.
It’s always been a struggle for me.
Not long ago, I sat in the loving circle of our trusted small group and bared my guts, like I’m prone to do. We were reading one of the dusty theologians, an author well outside my preferred scope, and I wondered out loud, “Why did people back then always pray on their knees?” I didn’t bother trying to hide my confusion. In fact, I assumed it would be echoed.
Instead, I was met with the blank stares that only mean words are being weighed for proper compassion. Everyone in that circle admitted to, at least occasionally, praying on their knees. Just as I had always imagined Edith. Exactly as I had never, ever done.
After years of feeling like an imposter for the ways my faith doesn’t fit the frame, I’m done comparing myself to Edith, or anyone, for that matter. I’m done believing some prayers carry more weight.
My off-key, scattered words are the truest song of my heart, and I share them because I don’t know how not to. They are an inextricable part of me, part of the communion which sustains me. I don’t expect them to take shape and turn the ship around, tidy up the joint, or send a mountain crumbling into the sea. They are the air in the room, the ground beneath my feet. My prayers are weak and uncertain, just like me. They anchor me to God, on whom I am eternally dependent.
I know some of you (many of you?) are Prayer Warriors. You’re modern-day Ediths, in skinny jeans. My impulse is to close this post with a laundry list of requests for you to take before the throne.
Instead, let’s just go together. You kneel, I’ll stand.
God created us differently, with intention. But He also created us exactly the same — desperately in need of His presence and love.
Let our words be our offering, however we happen to gather them up and string them together.
Let’s offer our hearts just as they are, fully known and fully loved.