Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness; answer me in your righteousness. (Psalm 143:1 NRS)
Yesterday my son started an internship. A recent graduate in a slow job market, we were all very excited when he got a ten-week opportunity for a job in his major. Knowing well Houston pre-dawn gridlock, I suggested he leave a bit before 6am. I pulled on my running shoes at 5:45 planning to have a few moments together before he left.
I found my husband alone in the kitchen reading the paper, “Where’s Craig?”
“He left a while ago.”
My heart sank. “He left?!”
“He woke up early and wanted to get a jump on the traffic. What’s wrong?”
“It’s okay. I just wanted to pray with him before his first day.”
Disappointed, I headed out for five miles. Well, I could pray FOR him even if I couldn’t pray WITH him. While dodging bats hunting mosquitos by streetlight I prayed about his commute, about his first day nerves, about his co-workers. As a bat swooped a bit close for my liking I also prayed about the various critters he would encounter on his day of environmental field work. I prayed for him throughout the miles, but somehow it just wasn’t the same as praying with him.
We’d had a tradition back in elementary school and beyond that we would pray together each day as he left for school. Maybe it was about a test, or a busy day, or any of the thousand things important to him. It was just part of the rhythm of the morning. So much so that when I started seminary many years ago he came running down the stairs as I was leaving, “Mom! You can’t leave for school until we pray!”
That connection is the biggest difference between “praying for” and “praying with.” God is faithful and hears our prayers either way. Still, when we pray together it forms us, it weaves into the fabric of our relationships. It’s a blessing to hear aloud the prayers that others offer on our behalf. It shapes our own prayers when we are not even sure what we should be praying for. It reminds us again that we are not alone.
He got home in the late afternoon tired and excited, eager to share with me everything he’d done that day.
“I’m so glad it all went well! I prayed for you today.”
“I know, Mom. I know.”
Faithful God, Our prayers are wishes of our souls that we whisper to you. Help us to teach our children how to nurture that inner voice that longs to be heard by you. Amen
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