The Prayer God Prefers




I set the plates and forks on the counter and called my girls to the kitchen. My husband had cooked a pasta dish, and it was time for dinner. We so rarely make it to the table at the same time, but this night, we were having a family dinner.

I spooned my food onto a paper plate and sat down at the table, sneaking a bite or two into my watering mouth. Mostly, I waited for everyone else to fix their plates and sit down with me. Once we were all gathered around the table and ready to eat, I almost blurted out, Who wants to say the blessing? Just as quickly as the thought arrived, I was surprised by it. We haven’t said the dinner blessing at our family table in at least a year or two.

From as far back as I can remember, the blessing was always said before meals, and I carried that habit into my own little family. Old habits die hard, I guess. And, to be sure, it was a habit. I’m sure there are some sincere prayers said around dinner tables, but for most (in my experiences), the blessing is sincerely a habit. It usually goes something like this:

Father (or God, or for the really spiritual, Heavenly Father), thank you for the food you’ve provided. Use it to nourish our bodies. Amen. 

It’s a nice way to be thankful, for sure; but let’s not pretend it’s a passionate prayer for the majority of folks who say it.

The day after the family dinner, I went to an event where I watched and listened to other people doing the one thing I’m most passionate about — the one thing that has been almost consistently absent from life for the past three years. It was difficult and frustrating to watch others do what I so badly want to be doing. When I got in my car to leave, tears rushed down my face, and a prayer rose up from my core. I poured out my heart, which was less like flowery, kind words and more like accusations and aching questions and begging.

For months now, I’ve been reminded on a daily basis of four words: I am with you. Every time I see the reminder, I acknowledge it. Ok, you’re with me. On my drive home from the event, while tearfully voicing my desperate prayer, I saw the reminder again. And for once, it wasn’t enough. So I made sure to say that in my prayer, too. It’s not enough anymore that you’re with me; I want you to do something about this situation. 

There were no lightning bolts, no signs of reassurance, no peace that passes understanding. Just silence. But by the time I finished that prayer or one-sided conversation or whatever you want to call it, I’d come to believe that maybe those are the kinds of prayers God wants us to pray: Raw. Honest. Real. Passionate.

Maybe those are the kinds of prayers that make us aware of who we are and who we’re meant to be. Maybe those intense, monologue-style petitions are what God loves to hear. I think maybe he prefers them over habitual utterings that require no thought or heart involvement.


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  1. Sharon Osterhoudt says:

    Yes!!! I will pray for your journey through prayer.

  2. Lynn D. Morrissey says:

    I take it they were singing? If so, I totally understand this, and I think I’d shared with you what a wrote about a songless time in my life . . . and now again will experience with the ending of my beloved Bach chorus this Sunday. And as for prayer…. I know I’ve been guilty of unfelt, routine dinner blessings (or saying grace as my husband calls it). I really appreciate this reminder, Rebekah. No prayer should be mechanical. And I believe one point of prayer is that the Lord cares about your honest petitions, no matter how raw, passionate, angry…. whatever… they are. He wants your authenticity. Honesty isn’t always those things. It’s sometimes quiet and adoring. And for Him to hear and honor prayer it doesn’t have to be lengthy. Many of the prayers in my journal are that way, but sometimes, I’ve prayed just one, heartfelt sentence, and oh how seriously God has taken that and answered. At any rate, I’m so sorry for your pain, and so glad that you told God about it. He cares, Rebekah. He loves you.

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