October 19, 2010

Silent, or Spoken.

It’s 3:23 in the afternoon and I’m sitting in the school library. I seem to have a certain love for libraries, especially this one. The minute you walk in your nostrils are flooded with the thick scent of old pages and bent spines, and this tiny four-walled room is lit with white sunlight pouring in through the windows. But, the real reason I love this room most, is because it puts thoughts in my head…thoughts of peace, tranquility, and drive. This room inspires me to no end. When I sit in this chair with my forearms upon this desk, all I want to do is write, and all I care about is letters, words, or silly feelings and dreams sprawled across thin paper. When I sit in this chair, time means nothing to me; its ticking notion is but a distant memory in the corner of my mind. When I sit in this chair, I don’t remember where I am, nor do I even care.

So now that I’m in such a place at this very moment in time, with Jon Foreman singing in my ears, I’m going to admit to you that good things are happening. I feel like I’m gradually growing. Slowly, steadily, and at a snails pace, one might say. Especially in my faith, and especially in my confidence.

If there’s one thing I’ve never told anyone other than my own soul, it’s that I’ve always had a problem with praying aloud. Out loud. I remember back in my Sunday school days, when the teacher would ask for volunteers to pray for the class, I’d always hide in my seat and cringe. Just the mere thought of hearing my own voice speaking to thin air, with everybody’s ears tuned in my direction, was pure torture. I don’t know if I could blame it on my own psychological differences, or just on my environment, since every other kid in the class hid their own faces as well; as if we planned to synchronize our fearful bodies to slide beneath the table. I grew up believing that this uniformed act was normal. Even with my own friends, the thought of prayer was non-existent. Sure, we were in constant prayer with God while we were together, but physically praying together just wasn’t something that you did with your friends. In my mind I developed the belief that prayer was the epitome of personal; it’s a conversation between your mind, and Jesus Christ.

Then when my first year at university came around, it hit me like a brick wall. During our dorm meetings, our concerts, our classrooms, I couldn’t believe how eagerly most people were to pray out loud for their fellow colleagues. And as much as I hate to admit it, my initial reaction was, “really? What’s wrong with you? Why would you even want to do such a thing?” When I attended a prayer night at this university, I can’t even recall ever speaking a word within my small group; I just couldn’t bring myself to pray out loud, with my voice and with my lips. Nonetheless, I sat still in silent prayer and wearing listening ears. When my best friend pulled me aside, embraced me, and started praying for me, all I could do was cry. Even though she was my best friend, and so very comfortable with her, I just couldn’t pray any words back to her.

These experiences left me feeling spiritually empty. I always wondered why God never gave me the desire to pray out loud for people, and with people; with my own family and friends. This spiritual desert then drained my every being into a pool of low self-esteem. When I heard beautiful prayers of poetry, like silk coming from their lips, and passion beyond belief, I convinced myself that even if I did try to pray aloud, it would be simply awful. Hearing my sandpaper sentences against their silk speeches was something I’d never want to risk. And that my friends, is what I call lack of confidence.

I then came to Bible school in Germany. I would absolutely love to write that my confidence is now skyrocketing through the roof and that I’m the official prayer leader for Sunday morning worship, but that would be a lie. My confidence is not skyrocketing through the roof, and I’m definitely not the official prayer leader for the Sunday morning worship service. But what I can truthfully exclaim to the world is that I’m no longer finding confidence in myself, but in Jesus who lives inside of me. With his confidence, I am doing things I never could’ve pictured myself doing in a million years. I have voluntarily prayed out loud in front of my peers, knowing that my “sandpaper sentences” are sandpaper sentences from God. I have also joined a sing team, where recently I’ve been forcing myself to sing out loud in front of others, at times by myself. And with this sing team, when we go on outreaches I may have to say my testimony standing at the front of a church. I’m doing all of these things that I can’t believe I’m doing.

I wish I could tread through this topic more, but my sense of academic responsibility is kicking in. What I’d like to end with is that it doesn’t matter what you’re prayer sounds like. I’ve always had a problem with caring too much about what people thought of me, so I just need to remind myself that it doesn’t matter what language you speak, how charismatic you are, or the number of descriptive and gorgeous words you can fit into your speech; what matters is making sure your heart is in it. God knows your heart, and he hears your prayers, silent or spoken.


  1. Can I get an AMEN?!!??
    You go girl. What an awesome revelation - It doesn't matter what other people think about our prayers and "sandpaper sentences"... God is what really matters most!!!!
    Ron and I are so excited for your singing endeavors! I can't wait to hear you sing for us at christmas time! Maybe we'll have a little christmas carol sing-a-long! Wouldn't that be fun!?!! Ron and Krissi can play duets on the piano and cody could bust out his guitar and Alora will jump up and down, and you and me - we can sing our little self-conscious hearts out in sweet sweet harmony!!!! I think this is going to be an amazing christmas!!!!

  2. jenni always loves doing the harmony parts. especially when singing along to the donut man. i'd much rather jump up and down with Alora than play a duet... haha :)

    Jenni-o i'm also super proud of you! praying out loud is so hard sometimes. to me, it just doesn't feel as personal when its out loud. i pray completely differently in my head than i do out loud. my face always twitches lots when i pray out loud. haha!!! but the way i see it, a prayer is a prayer, God hears it either way, understands your mumbling, and he loves hearing your voice say his name.

  3. Last Sunday, the P & W leader announced that we, the congregation, should find a partner & pray ... right there in the pews. This was before any singing or announcements. I was totally unprepared. It felt SO awkward. My 'partner' prayed beautifully and effortlessly. Then it was my turn ...stumble, stumble... pause... unfinished sentences...pause .... pause (what do I say?) pause... Just like the constant zits (that flare up especially on Sundays), I felt God was humbling me, again!
    So girl, you get it from me. You go, girl!
    ps - yes your CD arrived quite some time ago.

  4. Sweet girl. Your heart is beautiful. God made you to communicate the way you do. He loves your heartfel sandpaper sentences more than we can ever comprehend. The only way to improve on our prayers is to put more God in them, not more polish. But I think you already know that... ;)

  5. Postcard posted on Oct 18th arrived!!! What a beautiful place to hike.