(Repost from February 2011. Because it's all still true.)
Throughout college, almost every single prayer I heard Matt pray out loud started with, "God, we thank You that You are all good". He had never noticed this until I pointed it out. I know the exact inflection of how he would voice this phrase, and it was always filled with joy. I heard him pray this through times of deepest pain. Often still, when I don't know how to start praying, from habit if nothing else my voice or pen will start, "God, I thank You that You are all good...".
Mayr and I prayed together on the phone a few nights ago, for a long time. She called Him Father, easily, over and over, through our time together. I hadn't realized how little I do that lately.
She painted Psalm 139 for me before I left for Bolivia. The words slant across the page, her pen and ink flying around the borders. A prayer through her friendship and her art. I find myself praying every time I look at it, instantly, in its words and images and love.
Steve's theory is that an ideal ratio for friendship is two hours praying for someone for each hour you spend with them. He has taught me to pray deeper for other people more than almost anyone ever.
Often when this wise friend prays for me, even if I am with him, he prays silently. He prays for a long time, and when he's done, he will cock his head to one side and smile at me. I am used to people praying out loud when praying together, and this unnerved me; I asked him once, what did you pray? He grinned. Shook his head. "That's for me and Jesus." Months later I told him aching things God was teaching me, wounds that were being re-opened and healed deeper than they had been, love that was growing and pain I was getting more willing to embrace. He grinned wider. "That's what I prayed for."
I now value silent prayers over others more than spoken ones sometimes. The One who needs to hear them still does.
It takes a lot for me to let someone take care of me. I am never scared to call Mary Wolf and ask her to pray. I never feel stupid even if the prayer request seems small and if it reveals my neediness, my insecurities, my sin. She has never judged and she has never been too busy to pray. I sat at a table at Starbucks, alone, a week after my mother was diagnosed with cancer, feeling panic rise to where I wasn't sure how I would stay in my body. I called her at work. "I'm scared. Can you pray for me?" She did, on the phone, immediately, with no other explanation needed. "Thanks. I love you." We got off the phone. It lasted three minutes. I remember exactly where I was sitting, the feel of fighting the pressure in my chest, my hands digging into the phone. I remember biting my lip. I remember that after we hung up, I took a breath and went to class.
For the last year, almost every morning the first thing I hear is my phone buzzing to alert me to a text message. "Hi, Matty," I think. I get this text almost every day: "I just prayed for you. Let God ____"- a wish, a Scripture verse, something I'd asked him to pray for. At first this was sweet. Then this scary year, it was a lifeline. Now I find myself willing to share prayer requests I would never have thought to even ask for prayer for before, because I know someone is committed to praying for them.
"How can we spiritually support you?", Christine and Heath asked. We had prayed together easily and often throughout our years of dorm life, apartment life. I got back from HNGR and I did not know how to pray, and I did not know how to pray with them. So that semester, twice a week, we would find our way to a couch in the reading room. We would lean our heads on each other's shoulders and compliment each other's outfits, we would laugh and talk about our weeks. Then we would open the Bible- to anything- and read it out loud. Sometimes for half an hour, sometimes for five minutes. We heard His word, which is living and active, and it fell on us together. This time was our prayer offered up; we held each other and He held us.
I hear the Mosoj Yan's staffs voices when I think some realities and the theology I want cannot be held in the same cup. "Sí, Señor... sí, Señor". Their heads in their hands, their faces furrowed, their work amazing. Their faith strong.