I looked at a journal sitting in the front of a store. The store was just a store. They sell clothes and stuff, all for girls. I was with my wife while she looked around and I meandered about until I saw a notebook resting atop an old box at the front of the store. A prayer journal, for the public, to write their prayers in. “Surely no one would use this,” I thought to myself. Our world doesn’t like to reveal such things, even anonymously. We hold our weakness tight fisted, hidden from light. To write prayer requests in a storefront journal for others to read through, far too vulnerable. I stared at it for a while, and finally picked it up. I flipped through the pages.
“Pray for my mom and dad, please.”
“Life is too hard, pray for me.”
“Pray that my daughter finds God and lets me in.”
“Please pray for the man that I will marry.”
Page after page of true, revelatory words. I continued to flip through the pages, reading each word. A few of the entries weren’t serious; but most were completely, utterly vulnerable. One after another they spoke a shattering truth: Just because I’m in this fancy store does not mean that I’m ok.
Being vulnerable is hard. Allowing others to see that side of you, even in an anonymous prayer journal requires a cup of honesty with oneself. And let’s be honest, if there’s anyone we lie to the most, it is ourselves. That evening standing there reading that prayer journal I felt part of a community, a peculiar one I admit, but part of it nonetheless. I didn’t write anything down in the journal, perhaps I’ll go back and do that someday soon. But I did stop and pray for those requests. Because they need it. Because they’re not ok, even though they are shopping or laughing or smiling, they have hurt and pain that I believe only God can heal. So that’s what I prayed, that God would heal.
We all have storefront prayers. Those honest, vulnerable words that we dare not utter to another person. But there’s power in releasing those words. Whether you write them down on a napkin, whisper them in the night, voice them as you walk, or share them aloud – there is power in being vulnerable before God.
May your storefront prayers be heard and answered. May your heart be healed.
Lord Have Mercy.