Ask, Seek, Knock

Matthew 7:7 – Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

Back when I was a Jesus Freak, I wore a necklace made out of tiny gold safety pins and super-flared jeans, and I thought I knew about prayer.

I spent so many Friday nights curled cross-legged on a couch in someone’s basement, eyes closed, hands raised. Some guy played the guitar softly, and we took turns speaking to God, speaking alongside one another, asking collectively for the same big things. Revival. Salvation. Hope. Change.

On Saturday nights, I knelt on the thinly carpeted floor of that youth-church by the mall. On stage, the beautiful punk-rock girls with pierced faces and bleached hair sang about touching heaven, changing earth, and I could feel the words rise swift and powerful from my heart.

I knew the cadence, the rhythms, the language of communal prayer. Lord we just pray for our schools, I said, and I felt every word as my friends echoed them back.

In so many ways, prayer felt as much about connecting to each other as it was about connecting with God. We said Amen, and we looked up at each other, bleary and happy and closer than ever.

The journals I kept during that time are not so much a reflection of who I was or what happened to me in high school: they are my Psalms. My prayers. My deep-down hopes. They are a conversation and a cry, wanting and waiting, all of it addressed to God in my curly, sixteen-year-old cursive.

Who can really say how it faded? There was Christian college. Roommates. Politics. Displacement. There was new love and marriage and that sweet first apartment in married housing.

The circles of my life shifted in certain ways, and prayer shifted too.

And then, eventually, the dark days came. I asked every day for God to come near, and maybe he did, but I sure as hell couldn’t feel him there.  And then one day, I stopped asking. Stopped expecting to hear his voice tearing through my darkness.

*

These last few years have been a slow kind of rebuilding. In the deep part of the Depression, the room of my heart was stripped bare, and on the shaky ground of the other side, there’s been a lot of cautious work. I am pulling up floorboards. Redefining. Moving tentatively back toward God, making my peace with the Church People. Reading the Bible in really small doses.

But prayer has continued to elude me, this murky mysterious thing that I once did so well. I pray mostly in small, desperate spurts when my kid won’t stop screaming or won’t sleep or runs wildly into a parking lot. In the mornings, when the sun comes up, I start to pray, but the words get lost in my chaotic brain, and my thoughts spiral toward other things.

When our church meets at the beginning of the month for communal prayer, I send my husband and volunteer to stay with the kids because the idea of praying out loud makes me physically recoil. When I do manage to pray, I notice that my heart is steeled against the words. I ask for things fully expecting silence, abandonment, a resounding no from the sky.

Most of the time, I talk to God indirectly through blog posts and essays. And in all of these small, nearly imperceptible ways, I’m starting to notice him speaking back. This year, the creative process itself has been a kind of prayer. I string the words carefully together and end up no place I ever planned to go.

*

Here is the new year. It is cold and quiet and dark in the mornings, and 2013 feels new and old all at once to me.

There is this thing that people are doing in the blog world: they are forgoing a list of resolutions and instead focusing on one word, one guiding principal for the year.

And I’m way too much of a list maker to give up all of my resolutions (find a recipe for a green drink I can actually tolerate, finish knitting that cowl I started last winter, read 40 books), I love the idea of one unifying word to give the year definition.

So I chose one. Ask.

one word 2013 - ask

I chose it mostly because this year, I want to relearn prayer. I want to figure out what it is and what it isn’t, and I want to learn to do it in my own voice instead of that learned evangelical cadence. (I have a list of books to read on the subject of prayer and a brand new, Barnes and Noble gift card from my husband.)

I want to ask God my questions. Say out loud what I want and what I need and find a way to believe that he will answer …even if it’s not in the way I expected.

And I want to start asking for help from others. I have been so long trying to do it all myself, to prove to the world that I am worthy because I can juggle all the balls so brilliantly. But things keep falling, and I keep failing and the truth is, I am not as amazing as I want to be.

In the end, both of these things point to the same hard truth about me: I have become an island, curled into myself. I have stopped really trusting, stopped really believing, stopped waiting and started doing it all on my own. I want to learn the bravery of trust. The faith of the ask.

Ask and it will be given to you, Matthew writes, and I don’t know what it is, but I want it this year. So I will work on my way-too-long list of goals (serve dinner at the table instead of at the kitchen counter, start writing a new book, plan at least two weekend getaways with my Andrew).

But mostly, I will ask. I’ll ask little more of God, of the world, of my wobbly faith every brave, new day.

  • http://www.thechurchofnopeople.com Matt @ The Church of No People

    Love your word, Addie. I too am in the habit of talking “indirectly” to God a lot. I never was trained in a bleary-eyed prayer circle, so maybe I’m missing something. :) But I’ve somehow trained myself to avoid asking, to somehow avoid disappointment when God says no.

    • Addie Zierman

      Yes. Me too. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

  • http://www.christiepurifoy.com Christie

    Beautifully expressed, and I can relate (maybe most mothers of young children pray only in desperate outbursts?). I have been been reading Paul E. Miller’s A Praying Life. It isn’t flashy or hip and the cover is seriously blah, but it’s been such a blessing I think I’ll reread from the beginning just as soon as I hit the last page.

    • Addie Zierman

      You’re the second person to recommend that to me. It has been officially added to the list. Looking forward to diving in!

  • Mark Allman

    Addie,
    You may find you have been praying all along; I suspect God knows what your heart is pleading. I know many of your post make eloquent prayers in and of themselves. I wish you well on your journey.

    • Addie Zierman

      Yes, I think you’re probably right. I don’t doubt that God hears the prayers that I’m not aware I’m saying. But I want to learn more about prayer for my own sake. Thanks, Mark.

  • http://dlmayfield.wordpress.com d.l. mayfield

    your word gave me shivers–the only one so far i have resonated with (i wish i could think of a word, but i can’t–and it just makes me want to give up and cry, since i have no way to even picture in the slightest what could happen in my life next year). i am so excited for you, as i read this. giving up our tightly held island is the first step, and at some point the presence becomes real, tangible, and sweet again. i too miss my 16-year-old self, but this late 20s gig has a glory all its own.

    i am heading back today, so we must get together!

    • Addie Zierman

      Don’t feel a bit bad about not being able to come up with a word. You’re in a crazy life transition right now. (I couldn’t do it last year. There just wasn’t one.)

      But yes, this is what I want: the presence to become real, tangible and sweet again. Beautifully said. (Can’t wait to see you guys.)

  • http://chicagomama-brenna.blogspot.com/ Brenna D (@chicagomama)

    I get this. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become jaded through the years, or just weary through a long season of silence/unanswered prayers. Somehow I know more what prayer isn’t -seen too many manipulative, canned, “correct” prayers in these decades of following Jesus – than what prayer actually is. You are a brave one, Addie. I can’t wait to see how God shows himself through your word.

    • Addie Zierman

      I so relate to this thing you’ve said here about knowing more about what prayer isn’t than what it is. Yes. I’m there too. Hoping that in seeking out what it actually IS I’ll be changed.

  • http://Loveiswhatyoudo.wordpress.com J.R. Goudeau

    I so relate to this post. I dated a boy who used “just” as a speech tick in prayer and it drove me nuts–”just, you know, Lord, just…here…and just…love.” It seems like such a specific time in my life. I used to worry about my lack of quiet time every day with babies, but I’ve noticed my prayer life has changed. I used to be more conscious of it; now it flows out of me without thinking much. It’s like the Karate Kid–when he was waxing on and waxing off, he was noticing the movements, but in battle they just came to him. Same for me: in college, I “struggled” and prayed and then talked to all my friends about Christian warfare. Now I don’t have time to think, but it’s there, years of habit and searching and reaching turning into unconscious movement toward God. I still have much, much work to do–my form is abysmal and idiosyncratic, but it’s there, nonetheless. I’m excited to see you explore yours this year. Great word.

    • Addie Zierman

      I LOVE the Karate Kid analogy. Just beautiful. “years of habit and searching and reaching turning into unconscious movement toward God.” Yes.

  • http://katieleigh.wordpress.com Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams

    This word resonates with me. I, too, have stopped asking (except in fits and starts), because I know I probably won’t get the answers I am expecting. That was a necessary realization, but I know it shouldn’t stop me from asking altogether.

    • Addie Zierman

      I know. That’s how I feel too. Thanks Katie.

  • Josh S

    If you’re struggling to learn (re-learn?) ways to pray that are meaningful, consider looking at the collects and prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. It’s very ‘high church’ and traditional and formal, but it’s FULL of layers of meaning. Perhaps it will help you focus on the things you can be praying for that will be more rich and meaningful than “We just pray for our schools.” I hope.

    And I’m not even close to being a Catholic, but it might be useful to go to confession or talk to a priest. They’ve heard it all, including the people who struggle with prayer through the long, dark, silent nights of the soul.

    Good luck. I just found your blog through Rachel Held Evans, and I’m loving it so far. Blessings to you.

    • Addie Zierman

      Thanks so much for the suggestion, Josh. I’ve used Shane Claiborne’s version of the The Book of Common Prayer a little bit this year, and though I’ve had a hard time getting into a groove with the daily prayers, the occasional ones have been powerful in my life.

      I’m definitely hoping to do some more study and work with liturgical prayers this year and I study and seek and re-learn. The way I prayed in high school had merits of it’s own, but it was also vague and fuzzy and so focused on a particular result. (In our case, “revival.”)

      So glad you stopped by Josh!

  • Pam Polito

    Addie – your honesty, your ability to write from the heart are amazing. YOU are amazing and as more of life unfolds (you have many more miles in your journey) you will be able to see this more clearly. Keep going young woman. You are headed in the right direction. I am honored to watch it unfold in at least a small measure on your blog.

    • Addie Zierman

      Thank you so much Pam.

  • http://www.leighkramer.com HopefulLeigh

    This, this, this. How your words minister to me, friend. I wish we’d known to talk about all this last Saturday at Caribou because I’m right there with you. Though it’ll be too long until I see you again, I will be keeping your word in mind and hoping and praying it will awaken something new in you. And maybe in the process of seeing you live this out, it’ll awaken something new in me as well. Love you.

    • Addie Zierman

      I know! (So many things to talk about; definitely not enough time.) But it’s so nice to know that you’re there too and that you’re a companion on this prayer journey. Thanks friend.

  • http://www.amylepinepeterson.com Amy

    I cannot tell you how much my long relationship to prayer mirrors what you’ve written about here. I really miss those teenage Friday nights (we called ours “catacombs”). I’ve faced the abscondment of God and then had answers, again, but I still don’t ask as much as I should. My prayers are more like Anne Lamott’s – Help, Thanks, Wow – and I find great comfort in liturgies, too, but I don’t disparage those teenage prayers, and I wish for their sincerity to be present in my life again now.

    • Addie Zierman

      I love how you talk about the teenager years and their sincerity. I’m always a little inclined to write off my high-school-self for being so wide-eyed and “on fire”…but there are beautiful things there too. I’d like to learn to reclaim what was sincere and good about those days too. Thanks Amy!

  • http://redemptionsbeauty.com Shelly Miller

    I’m re-reading the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson on expectant, specific prayer. The first time I read it, my faith grew large. I’ve had a group of women almost twice my age ask me to lead them through it for a bible study. Your word just made me think about that and this quote from the book: “Who we become is determined by how we pray. Ultimately the transcript of our prayers becomes the script of our lives.”Always enjoy your thoughts here.

    • Addie Zierman

      Thanks for the suggestion, Shelly. Just added it to the list!

  • http://hoxeyville.blogspot.com/ Eric

    I thought that the three pillars of being a good evangelical were: 1) fervent prayer life, 2) devotional bible study, and 3) emotional communal worship singing. And I sucked at all three. I slowly rethought what prayer, study, and worship were. Maybe I rationalized whatever I was doing and renamed it prayer, study, and worship. At least I don’t feel guilty for not being good enough.

    • Addie Zierman

      I don’t think there’s a specific right way to do any of those things. Love that you found ways that speak to you.

  • Olivia

    Thank you for this – I so relate to your move away from prayer, but share hope that you learn in a new and brave way.

    • Addie Zierman

      Yes. Thank you, Olivia.

  • http://turquoisegates.com Genevieve

    I asked last year, and it was given. This is my “prayer” for you as you step into the year of ask.

    • Addie Zierman

      Yes. That still blows me away — and then makes me feel sad about how blown away I actually was that God would answer in the way we wanted him to. When I prayed for your Amy, it was with such weak, guarded words, like I was steeling myself for the “no.” Something to be explored this year, I think. Thanks Genevieve.

  • http://accidentaldevotional.wordpress.com Abby Norman

    I think there is some “ask” in my future as well. My word for the year is “unashamed” and I have found that asking for things, from people, from God, can make me feel like it is all messed up and my fault. This is dumb, and yet there it is. Ask seems like a big word, scary. But it is the one that keeps me in community…..Praying for you.

    • Addie Zierman

      I never thought about the word “ask” as being a community word, but yes, you’re right. Beautiful insight. Thanks Abby.

  • http://amblingsaint.wordpress.com/ Ambling saint

    I am a recent arrival but I love the way you write. Maybe all our Christian journey is about this: the experiences which shape our understanding and move us on into a deeper reality, one which makes the former things which once were so deep seem shallow by comparison. Like Ezekiel in the river which got deeper and deeper until he could swim in it.

    I think faith is like this ‘asking’ of yours, asking without knowing the answer., but wanting an answer in experience not in words alone. What matters is to know Him, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge. Even more important is for Him to know you, too.

    I don’t have a word yet but I am still thinking of one as I like the sound of this word for the year game. I love your picture of ‘ask’ as well. When I find a word I will definitely find a picture for it as well.

    I think you are asking well, but who am I to say?
    Blessings
    Ambling

    • Addie Zierman

      Love the Ezekiel metaphor. And the idea of an answer in experience not just in words. Yes. Thank you.

  • http://www.kelleynikondeha.com Kelley Nikondeha

    Addie, love this! Ask seems to leave the door wide open for exploration and discovery, for receiving the unexpected and asking in new ways. Looking forward to seeing this unfold over the year through your writing / sharing here!

    • Addie Zierman

      Yes, that’s what I most want from all this. Exploration. Discovery. To find God in a new and unexpected way.

  • http://www.carisadel.com Caris Adel

    I love this. Can’t wait to hear how what you learn bleeds into your writing.

    • Addie Zierman

      Thanks, Caris!

  • http://ear-sword-miracle.blogspot.com/ Miles O’Neal

    Ask, but tell, too. Prayer is a conversation. It felt weird to transition from teh standard sort of prayer to this, but it was one of the things that saved me, just realizing I can have a conversation with God. I can tell him everything, even when I’m disappointed or hurt. I even forgave him a few times. He, of course, did nothing wrong, but it felt like it, so on advice from people I trusted, I did. Wow, that was freeing.

    You rock. Thanks for speaking out in “print” as you do.

    • Addie Zierman

      Yes. Absolutely. (But they only let you pick just the one word. ;-)) Thanks, Miles.

  • Pingback: One Word 365 | A Deeper Story

  • http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com/2013/01/03/the-gospel-in-a-psych-ward/ Marilyn

    Addie – this resonated deeply. I too often sit expecting silence….or scream at God that he answered too late. I don’t know much about what is out in the evangelical world around prayer, but I began re-reading an old classic last year by John White called Daring to Draw Near. Instead of giving a formula he takes an indepth look at prayers in the Bible – White’s goal was not to write a book on prayer, but to offer us a renewed picture and vision of what prayer is and can be by, in his words, “eavesdropping” on these prayers. With you on this journey of ‘ask’.

    • Addie Zierman

      Love that Marilyn. Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll add it to the list.

  • http://awakemysoulblog.com Laura Crosby

    The frustrating mystery of prayer is at the top of my list of things to have a “sit down” with God about in heaven too! His ways are sooooo not my ways (a good thing, I suppose, since He’s…you know…God and all). I really wrestled with my “one word” and this prayer mystery was influential in the mix. My word, “fearless”, is aspirational more than descriptive.

    • Addie Zierman

      Love your word! (Mine’s obviously pretty aspirational too. Looking forward to seeing what we both learn!)

  • http://fionalynne.com/blog/ fiona lynne

    I love this. Prayer is something that I love and yet seems to frequently elude me as well. One of your last lines, “and I don’t know what it is, but I want it” – I wonder frequently, am I missing out on something because I haven’t got this figured out? Thank you for sharing your word and your heart today.

    • Addie Zierman

      I feel like that too Fiona. Though I don’t expect I’ll ever really get it figured out. But I want to learn something new and true about it.

  • Leslie

    It’s been my experience that different seasons of life create different invitations for how God becomes present to me. When the dry season came to me, both in prayer and depression, I was led to a teaching on Centering Prayer. Thomas Keating has been a guide to me on this practice…”God’s first language is silence. Everything else is a poor translation. We need to become still and rest in Him.” As the Psalmist also suggests, Be still and know that I am God.

    Silence isn’t always the barren place we fear, but perhaps an invitation to go deeper into finding and resting in God who is beyond our words, thoughts and feelings. Centering prayer hasn’t replaced other types of praying for me, but has seemed to enhance them.

    Blessings.

    • Addie Zierman

      Such a beautiful quote, Leslie. Thanks for sharing. (I’ll have to look up Thomas Keating. Is centering prayer similar to contemplative prayer? So much I don’t know about all of this!)

  • Nancy

    As I look back at 2012, a year of what felt/feels like excruciatingly slow personal growth, your One Word this year seems to have been my One Word last year. Ask. Ask? What I found (and still find) myself saying so often to God:
    What about… [insert situation]?
    What about… [insert person]?
    It feels and sounds so haphazard, right? bare bones prayer. But I know it’s honest. And I think God doesn’t mind.
    Cheering you on, Addie, because your honesty in your blog HELPS the rest of us be honest.

    • Addie Zierman

      Bare bones prayer. Yes, that rings so true to my last year too. Thanks for your kind words.

  • Mary McCauley

    Thank you for your honesty. I sure can relate to many of the things you said. Alanon was God’s tool to bring me to an understanding of His unconditional love and grace and today I am closer to Him than I have ever been. I think my favorite saying of the new year is one I have read twice in the last two days in two separate places, “you can change your life by changing the way you think”.
    I am still struggling to choose a word for the new year but change has been a constant in my life. The one thing that has NOT changed is God. He is always there, always ready to listen, to comfort, to help me through if I focus on Him.

    • Addie Zierman

      Yes, so thankful for his unchanging. Thanks Mary.

  • http://gritandglory.com alece

    wow wow wow. oh how i love this, addie. so much.

    • Addie Zierman

      Thanks for inviting us into a simpler, truer way of honoring the new year with just one word, Alece. Excited for my first year trying it!

  • http://www.practicejoycoach.com Holli

    Perhaps prayer isn’t about connecting with some Pie in the Sky type of god…but with our own internal source of the “god spark”? Perhaps when we are taught to discredit ourselves and our own voices so much by the Evangelical church and the doctrine they say is the only way to salvation…and they do so because they view our bodies and our own thoughts as so lowly, sinful and wrong…we are actually cutting ourselves off from the source of our Well…the Well that is inherently inside each of us from birth, from creation? So if we are not in tune with our own bodies, our own hearts…our own Well cannot speak to us because it knows it will not be listened to….So perhaps instead of looking for God out in the world, waiting for a god to make everything alright on the “inside” from the “outside”….maybe we can learn to turn inside, into our own wisdom that is Divinely given to us….To learn we ARE the Light – it is just that because of bad doctrine and abuse with that doctrine we learn to close down/shut out..we learn to fear and thus curl our shoulders forward, hunch our heads and say “What am I, but a sinner?”…filling our heads which fill our bodies with so much fear and hate and unlove…that we cannot BE the Light we are truly inside. When a glass is full of toxic gasoline, how can living water be in there? When our bodies are full of toxic thought patterns that fill us up with hate for ourselves (I.E. I am such a sinner, I am so unworthy, etc.) …how can Love ever get routed in there? “You cannot serve two masters at once,” a wise man once said. “You will either love one and hate the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both Love and Hate.” Perhaps it is a matter of little choices on how we choose to talk to ourselves on the inside first, perhaps asking ourselves first how we want to be treated…then following that internal voice crying to be loved instead of hated…

    • Addie Zierman

      Wow, Holli, so much to think about there. I think there’s a lot of beautiful truth to what you’re saying here, but I have to be honest — for all of my evangelical baggage, I still believe so much of its basics. For me, that Well will always be Jesus.

      But yes, I agree absolutely that fear-based language is toxic, that God is not fear but Love. Thanks for sharing your unique insight here.

      • http://www.practicejoy.info Holli

        Hi again,

        The thing is, I don’t disagree that the Well is jesus….words are just words we use to describe an abstract world that is happening inside us using the outside world around us. Jesus did this all the time with his parables. This use of language was very common in his day…to use language metaphorically. I think there is a lot more depth to our language, to our Christian faith when we can learn to use it metaphorically…to help us figure out what is really going on inside instead of projecting everything outside. See my post on why I write and use language the way I do for more about what language’s original purpose was: http://www.practicejoy.info/2013/01/semantics-language-propehcy.html

  • https://sites.google.com/site/holyhugs/the-corner-table Jim Fisher

    Addie – Not sure yet what my word is going to be this year. “Listen” is near the top, but so is “LOOK!” and “watch”.

    I wrote a little about “ask” last year. At first, I asked from a menu of my own making as if God was a waiter in a restaurant. I kept telling God to do things for me, to do things for my friends, and to bring things to me. And then I would wonder why God seldom brought anything I wanted back from the kitchen. What I heard instead was the sound of empty swinging doors.

    And as I listened more closely to that silence, I heard, “Come closer. I want to give you much more than what you ask.”

    And now as I timidly venture through those doors into the kitchen … who knows what is there to be given?

    • Addie Zierman

      Love your menu/waiter analogy. Beautifully stated, and something that will definitely keep coming to mind as I work through my own prayer journey.

  • http://www.kewp.blogspot.com Katherine

    Oh, wow. I want to learn the bravery of trust, too, but I didn’t know that until I read that sentence.

    You’re a revelation, Addie.

    • Addie Zierman

      Thanks so much Katherine.

  • http://gcjeffers.wordpress.com Gregory Jeffers

    Addie,

    I have been lurking around for a few months now. I was so moved by this piece, however, that I have decided to break my silence.

    Your writing is some of the best I have ever seen. I’m a graduate student studying Composition and Rhetoric and I tutor in my university’s writing center. Aside from the substance of what you write (and I realize this is a totally false demarcation as style and content are totally wrapped up together), your sentences are elegant and beautiful.

    This post, in particular, caught my eye. While I don’t think I’ve experienced the same dark night of the soul you have experienced, I nevertheless have felt burned by prayer and a particular praying culture. I, too, want to relearn to prayer. I have taken refuge in liturgy and recited prayers, but the ideas of formulating a prayer out of nothing–sitting in a circle with others as we offer “popcorn” prayers–nauseates me. I have written about that here: http://gcjeffers.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/lord-let-me-love/

    Thanks for writing. You don’t know how many mornings I have spent curled up in my recliner with a cup of coffee and my computer, reading your blog, as the sun enters the room. Your words are sacred. They awake my soul.

    • Addie Zierman

      This was such a generous comment. It kind of made my night. :) Thanks for taking the time to write these kind words (and for the chance to check out your post too)!

  • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    This is terrific – thank you. How I wish more people would talk openly about prayer-fail – because it’s true for almost everybody I know! Especially if we try to keep up that teenage cadence. I enjoy praying in community – if it’s small and if I know the others in the circle a bit. But in the last 10 years I have really moved more toward contemplative prayer and since retirement two years ago, walking prayer. Not many words in either one. More like images, silence, intentional presence, even when the ‘monkey mind’ Anne Lamott talks about wants to take over my life! I saw a quote on the internet last week – can’t remember who said it or exactly how it went, but the gist of it is this: stop praying how you think you should pray and begin to pray the way you are praying. Because we do pray, day in and day out. Lamott’s brief word prayers are one way, a sort of low-lying, on-going conversation is another. Sitting with a prayer book and reading the prayers of others is a rich resource – I just ordered one new to me – “Seeking God’s Face” and I’m already behind! Prayer goes in seasons, Addie. Get some Richard Rohr and see what you think about his wild ideas – I’ve found them helpful, even when I think they’re wacko!!

    • Addie Zierman

      Thanks so much Diana. These are wise words. Love this idea of seasons of prayer and will have to think about that with respect to my current wild life. I always so appreciate your insights here.

  • http://pensieve.me Robin Dance

    “I have become an island, curled into myself. I have stopped really trusting, stopped really believing, stopped waiting and started doing it all on my own. I want to learn the bravery of trust. The faith of the ask.”

    Wow…that describes me and I wasn’t even aware of it until I read your words. My word isn’t the same (it’s one I resisted), but like so many in your comment thread I can relate to this mystery of prayer.

    I’ve just begun reading Richard Foster’s book on Prayer, so I’m hopeful it will awaken a sleepy soul that wants to believe, hope, trust all the more.

    (I’m doing my best to visit all our Deeper Story writers; I realize there are SO many I am only now getting to know.)
    :)

    • Addie Zierman

      Thanks for the kind words, Robin. So glad you took the time to stop by!

  • http://www.joniovertonjung.com joni overton-jung

    Dear Addie,

    I’ve been loving your blog, and the sense of kinship that is cultivated even in silence.

    I love that you chose the word ASK…there’s something so bold, basic and hopeful about it. ASK. Jesus said it. ASK. It’s as if the very word itself is heralding an answer that is knocking, or perhaps preparing us to receive it…that the asking is on very cusp of receiving..even as the answers take shape, or shape us in their silent dawning.

    You introduced me to the site noisetrade.com, and today I’ve been loving the song by Amber Hunter called Freedom Road. It seems a perfect anthem for this new year. Here’s a direct link to the song: http://amberhunter.bandcamp.com/track/freedom-road

    This past year I’ve really loved Eugene Peterson’s book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, based on the Song of Ascents, Psalms 120-134.

    Also Mary Baker Eddy’s chapter on Prayer in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures—has been so helpful. One of my favourite passages:
    “Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words
    and in deeds.”

    Thank you for all your heartfelt sharings, searing insights, and the spirit of love and hope that sings out in your writings.

    with love and appreciation,

    joni

    • Addie Zierman

      Jotting down all of those great resources now. So excited! Thanks so much for the kind comment, Joni, and for sharing the ways you’ve been moved.

  • http://margherder.com Marg Herder

    This is such a beautiful post. Thank you. Fearless and at the same time it sings your fear so honestly.

    Sometimes I think that maybe there’s some kind of shift, and words no longer suffice for prayer. What used to be done with words instead is done with the humble act of living. But, when I think about that, it feels a little lonely.

    • Addie Zierman

      I love the idea of prayer through “the humble act of living.” That’s interesting to me. And I agree with you about the insufficiency of words. Thanks for the comment, Marg.

  • http://shufordhill.wordpress.com Bernard Shuford

    Well, based on the number of comments your blog gets these days, clearly the world is finally discovering your genius. I’m sure that there are others who agree with my assessment that you really are the best writer on the Internet :) If they don’t, this particular masterpiece should confirm it. Of course, as I’ve said, you’re mostly, it seems, writing MY thoughts, and with some variations, my life story. That’s so odd, to me. How can someone so different have so many of the same things in their head? Or, maybe if we’re honest, is it just that more people are like “us” than they might be willing to admit? I don’t know. But my prayers feel so dead. So useless. I force myself to pray, mocking my own hypocrisy, knowing that, half the time, I don’t even believe what I’m praying, so why should I expect the listeners to agree with me? I often pray mostly in a screwed up effort to teach my kids to pray; clearly I fail at that, because their prayers , after 7-10 years of my “training”, are still “Jesus, I love you, Amen” in an effort to get Daddy to shut up, it feels like. Are they learning anything? Are they learning anything GOOD? I don’t know. Do my prayers with my wife do anything at all to draw us closer together, or do they just annoy her because I always do it in a rush while she’s brushing her teeth? Does ANYTHING I do reach God at all?

    So, yeah, I get this.

    Keep writing, lady. You rock.

    • Addie Zierman

      Thanks so much Bernard (though the comment numbers are misleading, as half of them are my responses. ;-))

      Thanks for voicing your own insecurities about prayer. I feel like it’s one of those things that no one really talks about, so I’m trying to talk about it. I’m hoping that in being honest about my own struggles, we can all work through some of it together. I think there’s something to it all, but I’m not sure what and I so want to understand more.

      Anyway, I always appreciate your honesty here. And your encouragement. Thanks Bernard.

  • Donna

    Addie, I hear you on not praying because of the unanswered prayers. I haven’t got there yet, but there are some things I refuse to pray about because I prayed for so long and the situation got worse rather than better. So I just don’t go there. I still pray about other things, because somehow I can’t not – God is where I go to, and that’s a habit I don’t want to break!
    I’m looking forward to reading how your word for the year works out! I’ve gotten a word for this year, for the first time ever – consistent. And that is definitely aspirational, lol!
    Please don’t discount all those prayers and emotions of your teenage years – I’m sure you were sincere in them, and they would have brought joy to the heart of God. Just because you feel and pray differently now doesn’t mean that those younger prayers held any less value! :)

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  • Troy

    “And then, eventually, the dark days came.
    I asked every day for God to come near, and maybe he did, but I sure as
    hell couldn’t feel him there. And then one day, I stopped asking.
    Stopped expecting to hear his voice tearing through my darkness.”

    I appreciate this.

    I think that on and off since I was an adolescent this has applied. At some point in young adulthood I gave up. About 7-10 years ago I began my rebuilding process though I suppose, since it is has been far more messy and kludge-y than a home renovation, a better metaphor would be crossing the desert.

    I’ve appreciated your blog. Thanks!

    • http://howtotalkevangelical.addiezierman.com/ Addie Zierman

      Thank you for this kind comment, Troy. Also, I love the word “kludge-y” and will be using it from now on. :)

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