On Writing and Prayer

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For me, writing is a lot like prayer. It is hard and holy work, and when I actually take the time to do it—well, that makes all the difference.

Sometimes writing comes easily. I think most writers would say that there are times when the words spill out faster than they can put them down on paper. Those moments are golden (and in my experience very, very rare). Prayer is a lot like that, too. There are times when I can’t get the words out fast enough—when I can’t figure out anything to do but pray.  And often it comes with pain. It is no coincidence that the harder life gets, the easier prayer becomes. It’s what C.S. Lewis was talking about when he wrote that pain is God’s megaphone to a deaf world. Pain makes us desperate.  We talk to God with a kind of honesty and lack of eloquence that is difficult to muster otherwise.

But for me, that’s not the norm.

Most days writing is hard, hard work. I spend much more time staring at a blank computer screen than I do writing. Or worse—I spend hours writing paragraph after paragraph just to end up deleting the whole thing, suddenly aware that it’s not what I wanted to say at all. I struggle to get the words out and try to figure out why everyone else seems to do it so much better than me. I put it off to do other things and make excuses for why I don’t do it more. But still, I always, always, always come back. Writing does my soul good in a way that nothing else can. Every time I write—no matter how long it takes or how many times I have to start over—I come away from it a little bit lighter, a little more myself.

Prayer is the same. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out a way around it, thinking I can do better on my own. I search for the right words, mess up, and start all over again. I search for any words and find I can’t find anything to say at all. I feel inadequate and lost.

But I need prayer. I need it the way I need writing and the way I need air. I need it to not only be my best self, but to be myself at all. I need it because it helps me draw nearer to God, to be who he created me to be. Prayer is how I grow with God and how he meets me where I am.  It changes me, and I find over and over again that if I just start, God has a way to taking care of the rest.

For me, writing is a lot like prayer.  It is hard and it is holy and it is good. And I’m thankful.

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