I’ve been praying for you.
Allow me to be honest for a moment. That’s not always a phrase I take well. I’ve heard it too many times, said in condescension or pity or self-righteousness. It’s a phrase people have used when they don’t know what else to say about my doubts and questions, about my changing faith in God and the church. It’s a phrase people have said when they don’t agree with my decisions and would rather end the conversation than keep talking about something uncomfortable. It’s a phrase closely connected to the “thoughts and prayers” that too often replace action in the face of injustice. I don’t always take it well. I don’t always want people to tell me they are praying for me.
But sometimes I do. Sometimes I know the person saying it is genuine and caring, and remembering me during their daily conversations with God is something I shouldn’t take for granted. That’s what it was this time when my friend said it gently over a text message. I was thinking about the simpleness of this sentiment as I was driving into work today. As I steered the car into the parking garage, I wondered why it stood out to me this time in particular. Was it the words themselves? Was it the timing? Was it the friend? We are both in a state of expanding bellies. She’s a few months ahead of me and she’s been praying for me. But it wasn’t that shared experience that made her prayers so precious. It was something else.
Her words struck me so acutely this morning because I realized I haven’t been praying for her. I haven’t been praying for anyone.
I haven’t been praying.
I’m in the middle of a long season of quiet with God. I’ve known this. It doesn’t reflect my feelings toward God at all. My faith has actually felt strong on the inside, even if I haven’t been reflecting that on the outside. I have neglected church, unintentionally ignored Lent, and been pretty quiet with God.
But I’ve also felt my commitment to faith as a strong foundation lately, keeping me on solid ground. I still have doubts, but what’s under my feet right now isn’t crumbling like it once was. There aren’t big cracks threatening to swallow me up. The firmament isn’t eroding. My feet are on solid ground.
And I think, for the most part, this is okay. Because sometimes not having any words is the truest thing to admit. And I know from experience, the best friends I have in the world are comfortable sitting with me in silence. There is something sacred about not having to fill up every space with words. There is something sacred about being with someone in the quiet, understanding without saying so that everything is okay, that life is steady on, and that, for now, no words are necessary. This is true of friends, and I think it’s also true of God.
So I haven’t been talking to God, but I feel his presence anyway, shoring up the path at my feet.
I haven’t been talking to God, but I know I will again.
I haven’t been talking to God, but He’s still talking to me.
I haven’t been talking to God, but other people have been doing it for me.
I’ve been praying for you.
I kept thinking about my friend telling me this because she was doing what I’ve struggled to do. In my absence, she stepped in and that is good. Because God and I are standing together in the quiet mysteries of life because words can’t express this rebuilding and renewing, this faith and this fear and this comfort. And He knows all this without my words. He knows, but just in case, my friend is reminding him for me.
I will talk to God again, and when I do, I will thank him for this friend and I will pray for her.