It was a beautiful Texas morning. The crisp air met our faces as we set out for our early morning walk, the sun just breaking out over the horizon. We were walking our beautiful yellow lab across the disc golf course, then down the paths through the cedars. And as is our habit, we pray together, for each other, our family, our friends, our neighbors, our church, and our world. While it is occasionally interrupted by greetings to other walkers, or Reagan’s sniffing of all things gross, it is a treasured time for us to recenter our gaze on the One who we trust sets all things right.
One hour later, due to some miscommunication on my part and unclear directions on her part, I’m standing in a parking lot impatient, frustrated, and judgmental. As the one who I was just praying with earlier that morning drives up FIFTEEN MINUTES LATE (I put that in caps to give you an idea of my foolish heart), I throw up my hands in exasperation just to make sure I get my frustration across. I know, I know, weren’t we the ones who just led a marriage workshop on Valentine’s Day weekend? Didn’t we teach on the posture of humility and serving? I get in the car, immediately convicted, embarrassed, and ashamed. I can be such a dope sometimes, being selfish instead of selfless, thinking of the “me” instead of the “we”.
But what happened next was a beautiful thing. Barbie leaned in and shared how she felt judged, I owned and confessed my pride, and we were able to experience grace (because we desperately needed it), and oneness (because we desperately wanted it). Within 10 minutes, it wasn’t just swept under the rug, it was addressed, forgiven, and our relationship was set right. Something that could have dragged on into the day didn’t.
I know we could say a lot of pragmatic things were present, like not calling names, not raising our voices, not using accusatory statements, not talking over the other, but rather listening with our mind and heart, giving room to the other to share in a safe environment, owning all we could, and forgiving all we could. All that was true. But the more profound reason, we are convinced, is because of what we were doing an hour before. We were praying. Not because we are perfect. Far from it. We were praying because we are not perfect. We are broken, we are fearful, we sin. And we need the One who sets all things right to do that in us, even at the unlikely times, the unexpected times. We can put on display the power of God, and it is near to us, especially at those times we need it most desperately.
It was another lesson that if we are going to live life on mission well, we need to start with prayer. One of the great theologians of our day, MC Hammer, said it simply and powerfully when he said “We need to pray, just to make it today”. (While I hope you sense the sarcasm, please don’t miss the truth) We can never successfully live on mission if we are trying to do it on our own. It doesn’t matter whether the day’s mission is my marriage, my family, my neighbors, my work, my church, or my world, I need help from the only One who knows how to redeem it. And even if we experience hardship or headwinds against us in the different areas of our lives, we will be on much more sure footing when we’ve led with prayer.
So whatever your “it” is that you are leaning into today, start with prayer. You need it just to make it today.
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