After holding babies close,
Holding hands on the walk to the mailbox,
Holding feet to the fire,
Holding loosely to the ones who have left the nest
(Say it and say it until you believe it:
“roots and wings,”
“roots and wings”),
My hands and heart are learning the contours of a new holding:
A gift of words that will not be written down,
But only offered up.
Standing quietly in the sure center of an ever-increasing circumference,
I watch as my family grows.
While 7 in Scripture is the number of perfection
Six — for me — was always the number of completion —
The number of plates on my table when everyone came home for dinner.
When six swells to nine,
And the highchair is back in the dining room,
And the daughters-in-love help clear,
There’s a thankfulness that bubbles quiet.
Since they are all priceless to me,
My deepest desire is for their greatest good:
Holiness and helpfulness.
Time-bound and short of sight, do I really know what’s best?
Even with all my good intentions,
My jars of green beans and homemade granola,
My warm thoughts and my heartfelt hopes
Will add nothing to the faithfulness of their following
For this is something that only God can do.
God in heaven,
God of Hannah who prayed for a son,
God of Esther who prayed and influenced a nation,
God of Anna who spent a lifetime serving through prayer,
Will you give me grace to pray by name each day for those closest to my heart?
Will you help me to float their names like an offering,
Giving them back to you anew with every prayer?
Just as there’s a fine line between privilege and responsibility
(I want to see this as a privilege),
There’s also a hair’s breadth between conviction and superstition
(Especially when it comes to prayer).
Jesus says, “Go into your room and shut the door,” and
I go into my room and shout from the rooftop via Facebook.
Jesus says, “Where two or more are gathered in my name . . .”
And when I interpret that to mean that if two is good, then twenty is great,
And two hundred is pretty much a sure thing,
How lightly I have reduced this privilege of moving the hand of God to a referendum —
Or even an entitlement.
In my reading, I see that Paul lifted names in almost every letter.
I wonder . . .
Did the names spring readily to his pen because they had been on his lips in prayer?
“Euodia and Syntyche at loggerheads again”
Prayer like sandpaper to smooth away the relational splinters.
“Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, fellow servant”
Prayer like a spotlight on the beautiful image-bearer and words of thanksgiving for that sweet life.
When my prayers become prescriptive
(“Lord do this thing that I have planned for us . . .”),
As if You were on my staff;
When, with cobbled-together omniscience,
I presume to second guess Your sovereignty;
Set Your cross-shaped correction upon my words
And bring me back to the simple grace,
The lavish mercy,
That comes with unclenched prayer.
Let my words be few
And my listening be large around each whispered name,
With the offering up of my hopes and a commitment to Your will.
For prayer is the hardest work of all
Since it is not my work at all
When I cooperate with You
That You know what is best as,
One by one,
I bring each one
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