The Vulnerability to Pray

9d883252495e0bafba09370dbdbd643dNot long ago I sat in a room of people sharing prayer requests with each other and noticed something: Most every request was about someone else, not the person sharing it. This made me think, how much easier it is for us to share the needs and vulnerabilities of others than it is to share the needs and vulnerabilities of our own hearts and lives.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing a request for someone else—generally, these requests are shared sincerely with genuine concern and most people are happy to know others are praying for them in a time of need. But still, why is it so hard for us to say things about ourselves like:

“I’m struggling with…”

“I’m hurting from…”

“I need help with…”

“Please pray for me.”

Prayer is a humbling thing. Prayer is an acknowledgement of need for help from a power higher than us. When I pray, I confess that I can’t…I can’t for myself, I can’t for those I’m concerned about. Prayer acknowledges that only God can and so we turn our hearts to him in prayer asking that he would.

So admitting to others what I can’t do, can’t control—this is a humbling thing. How much easier it is to ask for prayer on behalf of someone else I know who’s hurting or in need. How much safer to keep my own needs and vulnerabilities to myself.

And yet, what power there is in prayer and in humbling ourselves enough to pray with sincerity and vulnerability. How much better could I know and pray for my friends and family if they were willing to say, “I’m struggling with…” “I need help with…”.

I’m not a fan of vulnerability. No, I would rather feel safe. I would rather take my own needs and concerns directly to God and leave everyone else out. Thankfully, I do have direct access to pray but that’s not how God intended the church to work exclusively.

God meant for us to need and help each other. He meant for us to know each other beyond the surface, down to the very heart and soul. But if we are too proud to be open and honest with each other we will never know or understand the depth of help and support we could truly offer in life and in prayer. I can’t help with a need I don’t know about or pray for a concern that’s never been shared. The more we keep to ourselves, the less we can offer in prayerful support.

This is a hard lesson for me. I would like to pretend it’s not something I need to work on. But the truth is, 90% of the time when asked how I’m doing, I just say, “fine”—whether that’s the truth or not. It’s easier, it’s safer…but it’s not the way God meant for me to relate to others.

I had a close friend ask me recently what the best and worst thing is in my life right now—simple questions that lead to deep answers about what brings me the most joy and most heartache in my life right now. She answered the same two questions and I learned a lot about what she’s going through and how I can better pray for the needs of her heart right now. This again got me thinking about how important honesty and transparency are if we truly want to know and help each other beyond the surface. How thankful I am for friends who see through my cheerful “I’m fine” and “good” when asked how I’m doing and push me towards truth and honesty.

Though it’s scary, it’s also so very good to be known. I feel the most loved by the people who know me best…the people who have seen me at my worst and know the things about my heart I would share with no one else. Really, there is much safety in vulnerability for here we find out who we can trust and are most loved by.

So don’t be afraid to humble yourself and tell the truth about the needs in your life. Though it’s scary, you will likely find many around you are happy to pray and help as best they can if only you are willing to let them in.

Is Modern Christianity Relevant?

10859615_10152506058101517_915080845_nThere is something about the rain that makes me want to write…a sleeping baby doesn’t hurt either. I’m curled up on the couch in a dark living room listening to the rain hit the window. The cat is in my lap, after turning about 15 times before finding just the right spot—that spot being one that requires I hold the laptop just far enough away to be a bit uncomfortable for typing. But I feel sorry for him—he doesn’t get much attention anymore so I’ll hold him and type this way if it lets him know I still love him—even if I am the one who brought that noisy baby into the house. Besides, I need someone to proofread this for me and he’s quite scrupulous.

And now the baby is awake; you see why I don’t write anymore?

I’ve been thinking lately about modern Christianity. I think it’s the modern part that’s bothering me. I was looking through a list of the Top 100 Christian Bloggers or something like that. I was familiar with some of the names and faces and have read articles from many of them. But it was the words describing these writers that got my attention:




Rethinking Biblical Christianity

Brew your own faith

All of these blogs seemed to be coming from the same basic perspective: Modern Christianity is bad so we need to rewrite our faith.

Now before you start pummeling me with words, let me be clear: I’m not against change—sometimes change is needed. I’m not against asking hard questions and examining our faith knowing we may find things we’re doing wrong. I’ve been attending conservative Baptist churches my whole life and let me tell you, sometimes Baptists can be cray cray. Some of the worst people I’ve ever known were “born again” Baptist church goers and I’ve been to a few churches that caused more harm than good. So I’m not here to defend organized religion or the people who run it. There’s been more than one day when I was ready to be done with religion {not God, religion} altogether.

But on the other side of this story, I believe if our faith is right and true, then it is also timeless. There’s no need to “brew my own faith” because my faith is not my own—it wasn’t written by or for me. It was written by and for God, for his people all over the world for all time. Perhaps my particular church in my teeny, tiny corner of the world needs to change—but my faith, the Bible I read to know and understand that faith, and God himself—these are unchangeable and no new or progressive interpretation need change that.

I’m getting tired of the negativity among Christians these days. I’m getting tired of my brothers and sisters in Christ being ashamed of our faith and practice. This is not to say I haven’t at times been guilty of the very same things. But it seems the general attitude about the church among my generation is, let’s burn it to the ground and start over.

Let’s take our ancient, timeless faith and do something new and exciting with it.

Let’s show people how our peculiar, countercultural way of life is super relevant and not hard or sacrificial.

Forgive me if I sound harsh but this doesn’t make sense.

Because here’s the thing: my way of life doesn’t make sense unless it’s based on something bigger and more important than me, something bigger and more important than what I find relevant and exciting for me personally. I do not need to make my way of living relevant to the culture around me because I am not trying to be like the culture around me. I’m trying to be like Christ and if Christ is anything like the world I live in, then why would I want him anyway? My God is different. He’s light. He’s beauty. He’s justice. He’s hope. He’s everything this world can’t give me and that is part of why I believe and hope in him—not because he’s relevant but because he’s so very different from everything else I’ve ever known.

I don’t want to change God into my image; I want to be changed into his. I don’t want God to be current or progressive; I want him to be timeless and unchanging so I can anchor my soul to a rock who won’t move.

I’ve been reading my way through the Old Testament and am just a few pages into Leviticus. Leviticus is not easy reading, my friends. This book is all about rules and regulations and the very specific way God wants things done. Why? Because God is holy and not like us. Because God wants his people to be set apart and different from the people around them. Christianity is about God and about being his peculiar people. Though organized religion may falter and change, the God of the Bible and the way he desires his people to live never does.

Let’s not confuse changing our mistakes in religion with changing the timeless truth of God and his Word. Yes, God is relevant to modern culture but it’s not because we changed him and made him that way; it’s because he and his timeless truth are always relevant in every culture just as they are.


The Comforts of Home


Today we are home, curled up on the couch watching football. The cat is curled up on the other couch, because obviously, he needs a whole couch to himself…diva. The Pats are playing the Dolphins. I would rather be watching my home boys, the Chiefs, but they don’t show their games out here. We were in Kansas City a few weeks ago and were almost late for our flight because I just had to see the Chiefs finish their game while I had the chance. They normally lose, you know, so watching them win for once is a lot of fun :]


We had big bowls of hot soup for lunch today and dipped thick chunks of warm bread in it. The heat is on because it’s cold, cold, cold outside and we are sipping mugs of hot coffee to warm up. I sprinkled cinnamon over the coffee grounds before brewing it; between that and the pumpkin creamer, it’s just about the perfect mug of coffee for a crisp fall day.

The whole house smells like the jasmine and sandalwood incense I’m burning…I love how the tangy, sweet smell of the smoke permeates everything in the house.

Fall Hike 2008-6

This morning we went to church and I worked in the nursery. There’s a bit of a baby boom going on among my friends right now. Every time one girl has a baby, another announces she’s pregnant. It’s fun…all these kids and babies and watching families grow and change. Sometimes working in the nursery is completely exhausting because all the babies melt down at once and you’re left wiping tears and noses and wondering what on earth you did wrong. But this morning, it was fun. The kids were mostly good and it was nice visiting with the moms and watching them visit with each other. It made me really thankful for my church family and the little group of girls I hang out with here; their friendship means so much to me and I was reminded of that this morning.


Last night we had dinner with Darren’s brother and sister and their families. We all live within 15 minutes of each other and I love the way we are able to spend time together and move in and out of each other’s lives. My sister in law made a big batch of chili and my brother in law made an apple pie. We all sat around eating and talking while the kids played on the floor. Our new baby nephew was passed around and held while the bigger boys climbed all over us and wrestled with each other on the floor. It was nice.

Fall Hike 2008-13

I tell you all these bits and pieces because together they remind me of one thing…comfort. Our little home and mugs of hot coffee are comforting on this Sunday afternoon. Spending time with our friends at church was comforting this morning. Dinner with family was comforting last night. Even the cool weather and hot meals are comforting. And with all these bits and pieces that make up our normal, everyday lives–I’m thankful. Thankful for the comfortable, familiar things that settle our hearts and minds and for the weekends that give us a chance to rest and regroup before heading into another busy workweek.


This is why God gave us a Sabbath–because he knows us and knows we need rest and refreshment. It has been good this weekend to be reminded of the simple gifts of home and family and to enjoy this day of rest in our little home.