“Jesus, Jesus” and Stark Prayer

I just discovered this artist, Noah Gundersen. I love the stark realities, questions, and frustrations all held in sung prayer here. I am drawn to the way this sounds like an address to Jesus without seeming like a well-crafted prayer presentation. It’s just a guy holding all his questions, hopes, and messiness up to Jesus and asking “where are you? How do you work?”

For a long time, I felt like I was crappy at praying. I didn’t do it in private that much. And if I could avoid doing it in public, that would be great, because I would trip up, get embarrassed, or say many things while saying nothing, really, because I kept just saying the same thing over and over again. I avoided prayer because I didn’t know how to do it myself, and it seemed like something too important to mess up.

Then I read this fantastic book from a former Episcopal priest, Barbara Brown Taylor, called An Altar in the World. She has a whole chapter that blows open notions of what prayer can be. She says something to the effect of:
I always felt like I was a prayer weakling because I would spend so much energy worrying about making my prayers properly reverent, or thorough, or fully focused. But then I realized prayer is about holding people and situations before God, in love and care and intention. Or just spending time in God’s presence. The rest is nice, but not required.

This freed me to feel like prayer is not something to avoid. Because, like many things in my perfectionism-prone life, prayer was another one of those things I avoided because I didn’t feel like an expert at it. It still can feel challenging or intimidating sometimes, but I don’t worry about doing it “right”.


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