I’ve long been in the habit of inverting my prayers. I start with “amen” which means, “so
be it” and I set my agenda down right from the start. He can move how he wants in any
given story and I am committing from the beginning I won’t get in His way or question.
Then I list and talk and ask for all that I normally pray about, “
Would you please…Thank you for… Forgive me now…” Afterwards, I finish with some hands-together-form-of-begging, “Oh, dear Jesus…” So I whisper, Amen.
You sell the house. Dear Jesus.Amen. You move her heart. Dear Jesus. Amen. You heal that body. You open the door. You provide. Dear Jesus. And in one syllable this word reorients, calibrating me with a God whose covenant he will never break. So be it. I can’t fix anyone, I gain nothing from wringing my hands. By inverting my prayers and saying amen, from the beginning I acknowledge his sovereignty and my surrender.
It’s become more than a prayer for me, it’s become a lifestyle, one where I put aside
my ways and embrace his. Here’s where it’s been challenging me:
- Recognize people matter. I am convicted about all the previous times I have
put a task or an accomplishment above a relationship. If I am too busy for
people, what exactly am I doing?
- See vulnerability as maturity. It is habit to answer people who ask how you
are with a response that makes them feel good. It takes more than I want to
offer up to someone, “This hurts.” Or “I am struggling.” But the days I am real, I
find it opens the door to an authentic exchange and gives someone the chance
to offer me his or her strength or gifts.
- Believe God, rather than just believing in him. I don’t know the exact
moment when it happened, this crossing over from believing in God to believing
God, although I now know I don’t want to go back. I have finally settled myself at
his feet. Some days I feel anticipation, so I stand there on tiptoes. Some days I feel
exhausted, so I am facedown, without words. On days with questions, my hand is
raised. On days of celebration, I dance spiritually like I wish I could physically.
- Say yes more. If amen had an opposite, it would be no. As I begin to fall apart
and find I am losing heart, I can always track the start of the downward spiral to
a no. (No, that’s not fair. No, I can do it myself. No, I won’t admit that. No, no,
no, no.) Suddenly, I am defensive or overwhelmed. I am anxious or offended. I cut
off the flow of the Spirit in me and insert my rights above all else. Turning any
ugly moment around begins softly with an agreement to so be it. It’s the subtle but
powerful yes to lay down your life, to trust that his life being glorified is better than mine. Yes, you have another way, Lord. Yes, I’ll know it because it looks free and light.
- Drink living water. We have a choice. We can fill our cups with living water and
not demand from other people what they were never supposed to supply. Or we
can go to broken cisterns, where water and thinking are poisoned and never
enough. When Jesus is our supply, he offers plenty of grace and mercy and
forgiveness. He longs to fill our cups. When our cups are full, we put him on
display, and the whole world sees a piece of the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
- Give Jesus credit. We have to extend ourselves, and in that extension, give credit
liberally to Jesus. The chief barrier to God building great stories among our
families and communities isn’t our faith; it’s our pride. He needs only a mustard
seed of faith and will still do biblically sized story lines. He just asks that we
always give him credit for what he’s done.
- Have chutzpah. Chutzpah, (the Hebrew word, meaning “utter nerve, audacity,
gall”) may cause you to cross a border, a street, or a demonstration line. It may
ask you to befriend someone wholly different from you. Chutzpah and boldness
may ask you to heap extravagant amounts of love on someone uncaring. It’s made
me speak up to strangers and try new skills. It’s made me ask relentlessly for
something and let go of other things. Chutzpah is not something I can muster up;
it’s something that bubbles over. It is the outcome of time with Jesus and is as
available to me in this age and in this culture as it is to a woman living nothing
like me or from a time long ago.
- Let love be. Love isn’t something God feels or does, and so by consequence, love
isn’t something I should just feel or do. Love is something he is, and love is
something I can be. When I orient myself to this truth, my spiritual muscles relax
in surrender. I am to be loving and exactly who he created in his image, nothing
more or less. This eliminates the shoulds and the shames. It enters into the
equation the spirit of “Yes, Lord.” As I love others, it’s as a vessel of the One
whose love knows no bounds. He teaches the lessons, he guides the growth, he
finds the lost, he strengthens the weak, he holds us up, he turns us around, and he
grows the fruit. See the pattern? It’s all on him.
- Make rest a choice. I decided I could skim the top of life, frantic in a lifestyle
more busy than productive, or I could plunge into the core of it and have richer
relationships, and intentional exchanges.
- Let God be God. Spiritual confidence is the outcome of living amen. It’s an agreement between us and the One who has authored our stories a low power single board computer. The challenge for me is allowing God the freedom to do his will within my life, which often makes me feel out of control and ask questions like, What? Why? How? What are you doing? Why isn’t it working? How come you didn’t ask me first? My challenges to him are all about my comfort, and his answers are all about my holiness. Why should I prefer a safe God to a risky one? Then I am just making God in my own image, instead of believing I am made in his.