We often view prayer as just the talking we do with God. It's that time we carve out, wherever it is during our day, that we talk to God as we need, drawing closer to the Divine in the process. Prayer is doing, prayer is saying. Or so we think. We don't often see prayer as those times in our lives when we don't know what to say to God, the Holy Spirit taking over in ways we don't understand. We don't often see prayer as that time when the silence between you and God is deafening, causing you to wonder if God is there. We don't often see prayer as listening being placed above talking, as consistently waiting on God in our lives. But it is.
Prayer is silence,
prayer is listening,
and prayer is waiting.
In considering this prayerful waiting, I am reminded of my friends who did not grow up in America speaking English. I am reminded of every visit with a friend who needed a translator; that waiting on something, especially a translation, is holy waiting. Here is this person wishing to communicate with you—you wish to communicate with them—and the barrier of language gets in the way.
It can be frustrating, until you realize that the waiting you do with that person is the purest form of listening you will ever know.
I will never listen better or more fully to someone than when I need a translator for that person. This time is filled with awkward silences, strained listening and patient waiting. It is prayer in a way I do not experience with friends that I speak to more easily. This time of frustration with them is a gift from God that I cannot encounter anywhere else.
And sometimes, this waiting culminates into something beautiful. Sometimes, you find yourself having a joyous conversation with a friend who years ago did not know how to greet you in English. The waiting turns into something…. more. I am grateful to God for those moments, but I do not expect them. I do not require them. I much prefer waiting.
A native Houstonian, Erin’s life took a variety of twists and turns. Most notably in February 2014, she and her husband Russell LaGrone joined the FAM Intentional Christian Community, excited to be in relationship with those they might not have known otherwise. Having caught the bug of a new way to share life in love with their neighbors, Erin and Russell discerned a move into the Near Northside for January 2018. They will be listening, loving and living amongst the people of the Near Northside, excited for God to show them and others how the Divine is already working in that part of town. Erin is currently enrolled at Phillips Theological Seminary to finish a Masters of Divinity, working towards Ordained Ministry in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).