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My Imperfect Prayers

I used to be afraid to pray. Privately or publicly.




“As a kid, the only prayer I knew was the one they taught in Sunday School that began with God is great, God is good...”

My Spiritual Spring Board...


My upbringing in church was a little different than most people's. Because of my experience in the foster care system, I moved around a lot more than I wanted to. On the other side of it, I experienced #church in so many different ways from the Methodists who read hymns in these monotone voices that only really made me sleepy to the Pentecostals that were so free in their praise and just as free in their prayers. Being exposed to so many different ways of worship was confusing to me as a child. It was so confusing that I just decided to just go with what everybody around me was doing. I didn't bother forming my own thoughts or opinions on who God was, because I barely knew who He was to begin with. I remembered the scriptures, but I thought the shouting and dancing was funny and amusing. I didn't know that they were shouting and dancing because they had something to praise God for. In the non-denominational church that I spent most of my adolescent years in didn't encourage children to take God seriously. We prayed our little prayers that our parents told us to pray, and we read our little scriptures to be cute for the cameras and hear our First Lady's encouraging shouts from the front row, but to us, God was some far off white-bearded man in the sky that our parents made us go to church to worship.


There was so much distance between us and God, that it had to be a moment of encounter when we could understand who God really was to us.


My moment came when I observed my adoptive father cry, I mean really cry with giants fat tears rolling down his scrunched up face, as he was praying during one service. The passion he had and his normally resolute and bold voice quivered and wavered as the words spilled out in a desperate yet moving way. I called this man my "daddy". No one else had that title, because I decided at that point that I wanted to be just like him when I grew up. He was many things to the house of God - a minister, a pastor, an elder, and an armor-bearer (not all in the same order or length of time). But I had this insider's opportunity to see what serving God was supposed to look like and what it felt like to be dedicated to something. I had waded in the water a little when I sat on the third pew of my church and felt the Holy Spirit stir me, baby doll tears trickled down because there was still a part of me that was uncertain about what I was allowed to do.


As I became my daddy's shadow, following him to every church function and event in-town or out-of-town, I learned how to build my own relationship with God. I started seeing life through a much more matured lens and began to understand the scriptures I read and not just proudly be able to recite them. My church was tightly-knit and they recognized leadership in me as I developed my voice. All the reading I would do in my free time showed through in the proper way that I spoke. I learned how to say things to make them sound smooth and well-thought out. So, on "Fourth Sunday", the youth leaders at my church decided to put me at the smaller, yet authoritative white podium that stood off to the left of the altar. It was children's Sunday, and as tradition goes, the children of the church were given assigned roles to do during service. There was a child assigned to pray, a child assigned to do exaltation, a child to read the intro scripture, the youth praise team sung a song or two, and then there was the sermon. Because most of us were children, some of us needed help in reading and getting over the shyness of being in front of the entire church.


But not me. I shined. I hadn't been touched by the consequences that brought fear. I spoke clearly, and declared that God was my God in the same way that I seen my daddy do when he decided he was going to cry out to the Lord.


I laugh, even now, because he had an nickname that circulated throughout the church - they called him the Weeping Prophet, and as a kid, I used to get so tickled by that, but at the same time I found myself revering in his ability to be so emotional in front of everyone. Seeing that kind of vulnerability was not very common, and this made me look up to him even more.


My Prayer Evolution...cont'd evolution,

Luke 18:1 "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart."

My first time praying in front of people was nerve-wrecking, but I do believe that it was my First Lady, who called me "punkin'", that spurred me on. I remember feeling the nervousness and anxiety melt away as I pushed forward. The words that spilled from my heart were as profound as they could be for a teenager, but I meant every word and I imagined it was just me and God. I did start off with the recited words that I had heard others use so many times, but there was this point where I decided that I wanted God for myself. I wanted to know Him and see how real He could be in my life. There was this moment where God started being my best friend. For me, prayer became this open-door opportunity to talk to God about anything. There wasn't this pressure to be perfect or fear of doing something embarrassing. Interesting enough, as an adult, there is nothing but pressure to get it right, because that is what is expected of you. There are all these expectations of you, because people believe that if you are physically grown, then you should also be spiritually grown as well.


But that is not the case for everyone. Like me, everyone's childhood wasn't the same, and we don't know what experiences shaped, hindered, or watered their relationship with God. Just like I remember what it felt like to open myself up to God in prayer, I also know what it felt like to release my hand from His because at some point I didn't think God could help me in the situation that I found myself in. That's it, though! It took my childlike faith to really let go and spill to God what was in my heart, but as soon as I started experiencing life's struggles, it became harder and harder to hold onto that same level of faith. I do believe that we don't start our walk with God with a small amount of faith, although that is as much as God requires of us, but I think that the more child-like, humble, and pure we are, the bigger our faith is, but it's impossible to go through life without getting dirty or wounded or even big-headed.


Got faith?


So, maintaining my level of faith has become my way of keeping the door open between me and God. I have learned that maintained my prayer life, which sometimes looks like praying even when we don't feel like it, is how I build my prayer confidence. I don't believe there is a wrong way to pray, and not everybody prays the same. They shouldn't pray the same, because God didn't create carbon copies everywhere. He made us all unique in our own right, and that goes for the words that come from our hearts. He wants to hear what we have to say. It's so interesting as I reflect, that being effective in prayer doesn't look like the big words or how many scriptures you can recite or how loud and long you can make your voice go, because, in school, being able to recite or memorize information is good for the test, but hard to recall for applying it to real life. I learned a lot in school that helped me pass my tests, but I have yet to find use for it today. While knowing scripture and God's word is important, it is your faith in knowing that God has given you His undivided attention and is listening to what you have to say simply because He values your heart and loves you for who you are, as you are.


“Pray with what's in your heart, and watch God show you His.”

I'm still learning that my confidence in praying is directly connected to my faith in what I am praying for. As long as I remember that God will still love me even if I mess up a word or two, I will be able to pray more effectively without pressure or restraint. The beauty of knowing that nothing I can do will make Him stop loving me will make me more open to taking necessary steps into who He's called me to be.


As my encourage for you - don't take your foot off the gas when you're praying because you are feeling afraid of messing up. Go full throttle, and push with your faith as fuel. God is still listening!


Love you all muchly!


Jamie,



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About Me

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Writing is both what I love and what I am good at. I began writing as a child as my way of venting in a journal. Poetry quickly became my favorite, and I joined a few clubs in my school that helped me to get better and learn more about my passions. Now, I write for both the love of it and the love of sharing it.

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