Praying in pencil
Posted by wlebolt
I make my prayer list in pencil.
Oh, I have my regular categories: family, friends, my vocational pursuits, the world, my enemies. Those are all written in pen. They’re there to stay. But what’s in the categories, that is the things I am praying for or about, the people I hold onto tightly and hoist high, the folks for whom I am so grateful, those are all written in pencil. Because they change.
The objectives of my prayers are changing all the time. I write them in pencil because I expect them to change, the circumstance to be resolved, an answer to become clear. And then I erase them.
Don’t get me wrong. Plenty of things have been on that list for some time. And plenty keep popping up there – especially in my “enemies” category. That’s actually, where I started the pencil thing. I resisted writing those things, those people, those inconvenient aggravations, in pen. So I, in my great wisdom and power, wrote them in pencil …so I could erase them if they talked back or got too confrontational.
But today I realize this practice has spilled out into the rest of the list. This penciling in. This temporary nature. Not because I am afraid of what I’m writing or can’t face it, but so I can replace it with the next thing. My prayer list is a revolving page of the conversation God and I are having. My eraser is my thank you.
Today I erased Justin, a friend’s 43 year old nephew, because miraculously he has pulled through a critical time when things looked very grim. I don’t know what the future holds for Justin. Actually, I have never even met him. But I penciled him in for a time and then erased him into the rest of what God has in store.
Writing things down is a funny thing. Some people don’t do it, especially the tough stuff, because it seems more real when we put it in print. I, on the other hand, write boldly in pencil – or, a bit more cautiously by cursor on a computer screen. Both are temporary. But the penciled one, I hold privately; the erasures are the only evidence a conversation ever took place. The other, this screen, is public, and I may be deceiving myself to think it’s nature is temporary. Because perhaps someone reads it or shares it and then who knows where it goes or what it becomes?
I think God’s okay with that. From the beginning He was One to share what He spoke. And people, perhaps even people something like me, wrote it down. Word processors, nah. I don’t think they even had pencils. I’m glad. What if someone had erased it?