Prayer Isn't a Performance, It's a Lifeline
I held my breath in the ultrasound room. I think I'd been holding my breath since a few days before when I started bleeding and the morning sickness went away. I knew. I already knew that my baby was gone and our pregnancy ended the way one in five do – empty.
When I heard the doctor say the words “we can’t find a heartbeat”, the weight of her words felt like it would crush me. I wasn't prepared for this.
It had been a stressful season already before the miscarriage. I had taken on a lot of good, important things, but I had over-committed myself and I was completely exhausted. Deep down there had been a subtle shift in my thinking that I didn't even realize took place.
Instead of finding my joy, peace, and significance in BEING with God, I started looking for those things in what I was DOING for God.
I was already running on low and the doctor's words drained me to empty.
In the days that followed, I tried to be strong and resilient and find the lessons in my pain. There were for sure a ton of lessons to be found, but I was nowhere near ready to hear them. What I was doing was trying to avoid the pain I knew I couldn't handle on my own.
And at night, I couldn't avoid it. I would lay awake with the sadness and anxiety making my heart pound a mile a minute. Until one night, I was just broken. I cried out to God – exhausted, angry, and desperate – and he met me. I heard him so gently say,
“Prayer isn’t a performance, it's a lifeline."
The words stopped me in my tracks and I realized something. I had turned prayer into another thing I had to DO for God instead of a way to BE with God. I had been avoiding Him because I didn't have anything to bring, but my brokenness. Lucky for us, that's all he wants.
All He Wants Is Our Hearts
God doesn't need our prayers. He doesn't need a nice performance where we say something eloquent and full of scripture. The whole reason God wants us to pray is because He wants our hearts.
He wants to heal us, speak to us, take our burdens, connect with us. He wants you to show up without the guard of performance and just receive His love and let it heal you.
Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17. And there are no healthy people, just people good at pretending to be. So let's stop pretending and come to Jesus wounds and all, He will be our healer.
I Stopped Performing That Night.
I broke before Him like an alabaster jar. I let it all out ugly sob style and peace like a wave rushed over my soul where waves of guilt and anxiety had been before. I felt him comforting me, assuring me, sitting with me in the sadness and saying I would be alright.
I knew then and there I could walk out this journey of grief with real, vulnerable, needy conversations with the One who knows me inside and out. I felt the great burden lift and like a kid scrambling to the surface of the pool, I gulped for air and finally breathed again.
Even though prayer is not a performance, it still needs to be a practice.
No, I'm not fixed and no, I didn't have a miscarriage to learn a lesson. I know things like this don't tie up in a nice pretty bow and you just move on seamlessly to the next chapter of life. But I do have a Comforter who wants me to run to Him every day. I do know I can grow closer to God through tragedy and that he will meet me.
There are gonna be days I don’t feel like praying, days I forget this revelation that He wants my heart. But faith goes beyond feeling and chooses God above whatever self-saving method we were going to attempt.
Making prayer a practice means I’m going to show up even when I’m not feeling like it and have real, vulnerable conversations with God. I'm going to show up faithfully full of expectation day after day and discover prayer as my lifeline, not a performance.
If you want to go even deeper on this topic, you can download The Busy Woman's Guide to Prayer. It's a simple way to kickstart the practice of prayer and my hope is that it would inspire you to stop performing and start connecting with God like never before.