There is a moment of hesitancy before the prayer.
It’s a moment to choose between giving up and leaning in to Jesus, a moment to choose between heartbroken doubt and hopeful wonder, a moment to choose between cynic and saint. In that moment, in the hesitation, I am found to be more of a doubter than a believer and more of an untrusting fool than I would like.
See, when that hesitation comes, I tend to silence my prayers. I have a million reasons, telling myself that God doesn’t really act or that he must already know what I am praying for or that it’s just a foolish crutch that I am leaning on. Reason after reason to stay in silence, reason after reason to let hesitation become my way of faith. This isn’t what I want from spirituality let alone form a relationship with God, but it is what I have. Hesitation and silence.
I used to pray in majestic ways. I used to pray till mountains shook and fire fell from the heavens. There was no hesitation in my prayers, my songs, my psalms. There was exuberance and joy, lament and sorrow, confession and conquering. My prayers moved my own soul, and I believed every word I spoke.
Then Came the Wilderness.
I have become burnt out on unanswered prayers and a silent God. Where there was once conversation, there is now that simple hesitation. Where once God spoke back, now I have come to expect the silence, the lack of voice, the stillness that is not so small these days.
“They say you speak in a still, small voice. Well, things are still around here, and I feel so small. Are you speaking?” The question burns my heart as I become disappointed in a God who hides and remains so still. So, I become the cynic. I give up on my saintly ways, on my faithful walk, on my prayers. I give up trying to live for god and now simply try to live. But this cynic feels so hollow, and I miss feeling hallowed.
“I miss the connection we used to have God” I whisper slowly into the night of my heart.
What if I prayed again? My fear is that I will be let down again, that prayers I am sure of would turn into empty words and my faith will again be dust. But if I could face that fear what would happen? If I went forward at the moment of hesitation instead of shrinking back, if I pushed against the doubt and believed again that the Lord hears my prayers, could I live as a saint again? Could I believe again?
So, I do it. I pray. Through the moment of hesitation and into the work of forming words to capture my hearts desire, the truth of humanity, and the truth of God. A prayer asking for something so simple, yet at the same time confessing enormous truths.
I’m still cynical, still full of doubt and fear. But even in that doubt and fear I’m trying to walk the holy ways. Maybe it’s not about choosing between cynic and saint. Maybe it’s about living as a cynic and a saint at the same time, knowing the hesitation yet choosing to push through it. Maybe this is how to live as a battered charismatic.