I don’t know why, but the silent calm place of solitude just isn’t getting it done for me with my prayer life. And I think it’s because it feels like I can’t be real with God in the dead of silence. Like I can’t be reallyreal with God.
So I pray in the car. I pray when I’m on the road feeling powerful and in control and there’s background noise and some music with a nice beat so if I rant or get a little heated no one will notice. God’s in the passenger seat, and I just lay it all out for God to hear. Nothing holding me back.
What I’ve noticed about my prayers in the car is that they’re brutally and fiercely honest. They’re never asking God to do this or that; they instead spark a more demanding tone. Like, “Okay, God. Show up now. You’ve abandoned me/them/us long enough. Do your thing.”
I pray for a multitude of things like this. For myself and whatever seems to be the issue that day, for the Lutheran Center’s capital campaign, for my family, for friends. It’s all fair game in the car. And once I’ve gotten it out of my system, I always end with the usual “Amen.” Whether it’s mumbled, screamed, passive aggressively stated, or sighed with relief, I can’t move on with my day until I have uttered “Amen.”
Amen in its most basic sense, means “So be it.” As one Catholic website says, “When one says “amen” in response to a prayer, it serves as an affirmation of agreement with the content of the prayer.” Okay, well that make sense. It’s not as if I’m going to start praying things I don’t agree with. But it goes deeper than that.
When my prayers are a demand for God to show up, to do God’s thing, to bring new life to the death I see around me – and I end with Amen – I am saying that I know God is capable of doing this. I know that everything I just told God to do is within God’s capacity to do so. I know that God could finish the capital campaign today or send me a burning bush outside my home that tells me what to do with my life or even get my friend a congregation to call her as their pastor tomorrow. These things are not outside of the box for God. Seriously, God’s done crazier things.
When I utter Amen, I am declaring that the God I am praying to does show up to God’s people. I am expressing that the God I pray to does not abandon us in valley of the shadow of death. I am believing that the God I am demanding to do this and that might actually hear me and do it. I am affirming that I have a say in God’s actions.
This word – Amen – has weight to it. When we ask God to heal a friend’s cancer or comfort us in our pain or simply give us one sign that it’s all going to be alright, it changes us. But it also changes our relationship with God. It makes us an active part in the Kingdom’s coming, refusing to submit or resign to the will of God and instead declaring that we want to take part in it.
I believe that God wouldn’t have given us the gift of prayer if God wasn’t open to hearing all of our weird, demanding, scared, and angry prayers. So I will keep praying:
Our mission is to invite students more deeply into Jesus Christ and the community that bears His name, so they can discover and fulfill their vocation as disciples. We are a campus site of Nebraska Lutheran Campus Ministries, an agency of the Nebraska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Sunday worship with communion 10:15 am
Wednesday evening prayer 9:15 pm
Morning prayer (Mon – Fri)
UNL Lutheran Center
535 North 16th Street
Lincoln, NE 68508