Confessions of a Prayer Wimp

I came across a photo copy of this article earlier today. It’s by Mary Pierce from the May 1997 Focus on the Family Magazine. Sometimes articles like this can be taken as guilt trips or condemnation. However, I prefer to take them as conviction and encouragement.

I heard it again today. A radio host introduced his female guest as a real prayer warrior. I cringed with guilt, imagining a Saint who wore out countless pairs of pantyhose at the knee, whose eloquent prayers altered the course of history and inspired prodigals homeward. I felt puny and pathetic, for you see, I’m not a prayer warrior at all. I’m a prayer wimp.

Problems like the water heater exploding don’t send a prayer warrior, in ratty bathrobe, running from the house screaming: “Help, Lord! Save us!” No, a warrior never loses her cool. Instead she prays: “Thank You, Lord, for this opportunity to wash the basement floor”, as she works her mop. “Oh, and the ceiling too!”

I know that if car trouble strands a warrior in the middle of nowhere with an ice-cream cake melting in her back seat, she doesn’t pound her forehead on the steering wheel and shout to the corn fields: “Why ME, Lord?”

No, she remains calm, even though eight giggling fourth grade girls are waiting back at the house with an anxious birthday girl and her even more anxious father. This warrior smiles, praying for the Good Samaritan tow-truck driver who will happen along before her cake thaws. And he’ll refuse to accept her cheque, insisting it’s his “pleasure to be of service, ma’am.”

The tow truck showed up for me, too, but after I unsuccessfully tried to dam the flow of melting ice cream with one used tissue and an old receipt I’s dislodged from the gum at the bottom of my purse. My rescuer also refusing my cheque, demanding cash up front instead. I offered the remaining cake as partial payment, but “Happy Birth” didn’t appeal to him either.

On her knees before dawn, a warrior has the whole world prayed for before her very first cup of coffee. When the alarm shatters my sleep, my mind muddles through a thick fog. Did I survive the night? Guess so … Heaven would surely be cleaner than this bedroom!

When a warrior’s friend calls her with a concern, the warrior says gently, “Let’s pray about that, shall we?” Pity the friends of wimps like me. A phone call becomes a mutual whining session about the tough stuff of life with the promise to pray (not out loud on the phone, of course) for each other later.

“Make time for appointments with God”, the experts advise. O sure! Between the kids’ stuff and my countless jobs, I’m Jonah in the whale of busyness. And those rare times that the children are at camp, or I’m sick, and I can manage those appointments, it’s like spiritual teeth cleaning. All that scraping, just to remove the plaque of my life. That slick, clean feeling afterward sure doesn’t last long.

While a warrior’s prayers are a symphony, mine are like advertising jingles: “Lord, I need a break today!” “Reach out and touch me, God.” “Lord, take me away!”

A warrior’s prayers are an elegant, intimate dinner for two; mine are a fast food run. “I’ll take a new heart, a new mind and two orders of patience, Lord. And could I please have that to go?”

Maybe I need a twelve-step program where I could stand before a mass of strangers and confess: “My name is Mary and I am a prayer wimp.” Murmurs of understanding would assure me that I am not alone. No one would throw rocks.

Thinking things over, I wonder if prayer warriors ever feel like wimps. Maybe we’re all just raw recruits in God’s army. What if prayer isn’t about what we are or do or say, but about who God is?

I’d like to be less wimp and more warrior, but I have a feeling that doesn’t happen overnight. Maybe a good first step would be to sit at God’s feet a while and say: “Lord, teach me to pray.” I’ll be quiet and listen. I think I’ll give it a shot.

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