Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
— Psalm 139:4
Girl, you didn’t fail.
My own pilgrimage to prayer has felt like a series of setbacks and failures — a tally of victories and losses that I faithfully recorded in a spiral-bound journal.
I would take pen to paper and scratch out long lists of requests. Two days later, I would return and mark the “answered” prayers with a bold, underlined word: PRAISE. I left blank spaces behind other requests that — to me — seemed to have been ignored, or answered in ways I didn’t like.
This was a scorecard of prayers that “worked” and prayers that failed — or so I thought.
I still record my daily prayers, but a few years ago, I stopped keeping score. I started to realize that prayer had less to do with changing my circumstances, and more to do with changing me. Prayer had been like a drive-through window where I’d place my order and leave. It became a time of communing with a dear Friend. And as it turned out, this Friend knew my needs before I even asked — and I didn’t need to treat him like a short-order cook.
And on this pilgrimage, I’m finding that prayer isn’t always about the asking. It’s conversing with my Friend throughout the day.
Sure, I pray in my quiet time, with journal on my lap. But I also pray in my garden, as I tend to His Earth. I pray while I wash dishes and while I fold my family’s laundry.
“Protect her heart, Lord,” I whisper as I fold a 5T shirt that covers the heart of a young girl.
“Keep Scott safe from harm,” I plead as I stack my farmer’s work shirts in the closet.
“Wash me clean, Father,” I beg of Him as I fold another bath towel.
And I still make my lists. (I can’t keep it straight otherwise.)
But I’ve come to realize that my idea of a failure is really a victory in disguise — a victory revealed in God’s own time. Often, if prayers had turned out the way I’d hoped, the results could have been disastrous.
But still I ask, and I plead, and if I err in anything, Lord, let me err in asking for something big — really big.
I’ve prayed for many a miracle — only to find the miracle taking place not on things external, but in the depth of my own soul.
Do I fail at prayer? Yes.
But my God never fails me.