There is a scene in The Forgotten Carols, playing at the Artisan Center Theater in Hurst, TX, where I pray for the female lead character, a hard-boiled woman named Constance. As I do so, a crowd of people slip in from various corners of the stage, singing the refrain, “We cannot find our way/we cannot find our way at all.”* In the crowd are the faces of a science teacher, a businessman, a Marine in his dress blues, a chef, a nurse in her scrubs, children in soccer uniforms, a biker chick with her little girl. It is a heart-wrenching song sung by people who cannot find hope and direction in their lives.
One night as I was mouthing the stage prayer, it unexpectedly turned into a real prayer…for those in my own life who are hurting, wrestling with big issues, spiritually lost. The characters on stage became real people and, with the poignant music in the background, I deeply felt the need to lift them before God and pray for them by name. I am doing this at every performance now.
Now I have to interrupt this sublime moment by confessing that prayer is not my favorite spiritual activity in the world. I would rather dig into the Bible and do an in-depth word study, or listen to a carefully-crafted sermon, or read the work of a popular Christian author than pray. Years ago, during my yearly physical, the doctor said he suspected I had adult Attention Deficit Disorder. This explained a lot, like why the top of my head feels like it’s going to launch a skyrocket if I sit in a meeting for more than 10 minutes.
On the way home, I said, “Y’see, God, this is why I can’t seem to sit down long enough to pray. I have ADD, and here’s a doctor’s note to prove it!”
I don’t think my excuse cut any ice with the Lord, but I kept struggling with my prayer life. Then I had an epiphany during the play. We all pray differently. Some like to pray outdoors while they’re jogging or sitting under the shade of an oak tree. Others like to team up with a prayer partner. There are folks who enjoy praying in the early-morning darkness (as Jesus did), while others pray in the dark coziness of night (like the Psalmist).
I don’t think my fellow actors will come to my house every day to help me pray, but, being the creative type that I am, it may just be that I need something dramatic to spark my prayer life. Stirring music, a view of nature, a soaring piece of writing might just give me the inspiration I need.
Do any of you feel like a 98-lb weakling when it comes to prayer? Has anything helped to pump you up with intercessory power? What kind of “supplements” do you take to keep your prayer muscles strong and healthy?
*Lyrics from I Cannot Find My Way/Three Kings by Michael McLean