"Your prayer might be so little that it may
not seem like a prayer at all.
But it's enough. God hears it."
(Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, by Sally Lloyd-Jones & Jago)
Sometimes I ask God for answers to big and crazy prayers. Make Sharon sober. Turn Jacob's heart to the Lord. Heal John of his cancer.
Sometimes I go even bigger. Bring revival and reformation to our nation. Feed the children of Uganda. Transform North Korea and open it to the Gospel.
I think of Strunk and White's wonderful maxim for writers: "Omit needless words." And so I try and and keep it simple. "Lord, help." I might add, "please." And like the widow seeking justice, I don't mind begging. Help. Help. Help. I stopped adding the qualification "if it be your will," as He and I have an understanding: I ask for what I want, and He, being God, and seeing the big picture, gives me what I need or maybe others what they need or whatever in His Goodness and Bigness he knows is best. He is Father, and he is one father who always knows what is best.
Sometimes I draw a picture for God of what I want. Not a literal one, mind you, though I think that would be great (only I can't draw). I draw one in my imagination. I see a healed John leaping and jumping around, playing basketball with his kids, and I present it to God. "See, that's what I want." He might say, "yes, that's what I want too," or He might redraw the picture and say, "Isn't this better?," or He may redraw it in some completely indescribable abstract art kind of way and give it to me and not say a word. Well, that's like the Christmas present from your parents you had absolutely no use for until one day a few years later you said "oh yeah, that's what that was for," or, just maybe, you never know what it is for. That's God for you. He's good, but you just have to trust him. After all, he says "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matt. 7:11). If the exclamation mark matters at all it means sweet, soft-spoken Jesus must have yelled that. Better pay attention.
But I do little prayers too, and God likes them. He cares about one lost sheep. He will help you find a lost coin. Even help you find the missing sock or lost hairbrush. He might, like he did for me one time, help me walk over to a bunch of people I did not know and say hello. Thirty-eight years later, one of them is a fast friend.
Somebody said once that I should keep a "prayer notebook." I understand. It helps you see God's faithfulness. And yet I never kept a record of all those requests my parents answered by "yes," or "no," or "we'll see." And I still believed in them. So I didn't keep the notebook anymore. I just keep asking and watching what He will do.
I laid on my bed today, as I was a bit sick, and while I was there I dreamed up a big, big prayer, imagining a beautiful answer. I drew a really nice picture for God, and I know He will appreciate it. And He will answer. Someday. Somehow. I prayed a little one too (comparatively speaking). I said "Get me up from here. Please." He did.
Sometimes, though, I have writer's block. I don't know how to pray. I know there is a mess of tangled words and plot lines, but I stare at a blank page. I remember one writer told me he played indoor mini golf for a year when he was supposed to be writing a book. It's something like that. Only I watch Warehouse 13 reruns. Where to start? How to encapsulate this prayer in a nice sentence, or even a paragraph? Nothing. The Spirit has to take over then, writes out a prayer in invisible ink and you hold it up to the light or in a mirror and you see what it was that you needed to be asking but couldn't figure out how to ask. I was that way with my parents when I was a little kid. I didn't know what I needed or wanted much of the time, but I knew they had it or would know what to do.
Big and crazy prayers. Little bitty prayers. Inarticulable prayers. They all matter to Him.