It's raining outside. I sit in the wee hours of the morning with a baby asleep in the room. A quiet house does not happen very often these days but I am not relishing it for I have the nagging feeling that I must pray.
At first I ignore it. I'll just recheck Instagram or Facebook one more time. Surely someone sent another email between 4:30 and 5:01 a.m.
Why must I pray? Why can't my heart be light? Why must it grind and burn inside me with dissatisfaction and frustration and sadness? Why can't I rest peacefully like the 1 year old next to me in this room.
I have so many good gifts in my life and yet the knowledge of that does not penetrate the angst in my heart.
You see, I am still not completely whole. Not entirely shocking but worth saying anyway. I have beautiful healthy children. I have a loving husband whom I love. We own a house, I have a bed in a safe community and the list goes on. But there are still empty spaces inside. Sometimes they ache. Sometimes at 4:30 a.m., when I should be sleeping, they ache. And so I am asked by the Spirit to pray, and I do, however reluctantly.
I pray, in the hope, that every prayer I utter builds towards a more whole, peaceful, joyful, patient, loving, kind, good, and self-controlled person. I pray to remain sensitive to His leading so as not to grieve Him. I lay my pitiful, hardened, spoiled, and entitled heart at the mercy seat and ask for change. I ask for wholeness. I ask for God to mend the broken parts, to smooth my sides like a potter wets and removes the ridges with pressure on the mound of clay. At 4:30 a.m, I can feel the pressure.
If I ask for everything and anything perhaps I will find the silver bullet. The right thing to pray to fix this unrest inside me.
And then, feeling no peace from those prayers, I stop. And then I ask , “What should I be asking for?” And I wait and I listen. And the scrambling prayers quiet and I hear the word, “Freedom”. And the words continue to shape ever so gently in my mind, “Freedom from pain, from disappointment, from complacency. Ask me for this.”
And in this moment, in the darkness and stillness my lips can barely utter the word. Freedom. Can I even ask for such a thing? Do I have the faith to ask or will my own fear and mistrust of God stifle my voice. I don't want to ask and not be given what I ask. My soul could not bare it.
Asking for peace is a much easier prayer, peace is not so hard to give. Ask me to pray for peace God. I believe in that. I believe you can give that. But freedom....freedom is a miracle. It involves actual healing. Freedom means change. It is the unknown on the other side of the cage. And the vastness of the thought steals my very breath.
The mere chance that it could happen, that this prayer could be answered is too enticing and alluring for me. To say nothing of that fact that He has asked me to ask for it. This is my moment to grow in trust of Him.
And so in the quiet of that moment, the rise and fall of a baby's breath the only sound, I whisper with all the courage and faith my weary heart can muster “Freedom. Please.” And tears run down my face and something inside me breaks and breaks open.