A group of us gathered, having spent more than a decade apart, to pray for our friend. Almost strangers, because of the stretch of years, we sat on her living room rug and began to pray. I was scared—scared of the shock of sadness from seeing my friend so frail, wearing a wig. Scared of believing she might live, not wanting to be upset with God if she doesn’t. Scared of praying aloud in front of these people I barely knew anymore.
At first, I listened to others cry out to God. I shifted my feet to get comfortable on the floor. While I was marveling at their eloquence, my phone chimed in my purse; embarrassment flushed my face. How had I forgotten to turn it off?
Word by word, the sincerity of the offered prayers extinguished my self-conscious thoughts. A sweet voice grew shrill in desperation. Another voice remained serene, praying verses of Scripture. “Lord, why is praying scary tonight?” a voice near me questioned, as if it were my own. My heart fully opened.
I began to trust these old acquaintances, to echo their prayers for wisdom, for strength, for healing! Yes, Lord, you can do anything! Is any woman purer of heart than this dear friend? Eventually, I was moved to pray aloud too, asking Jesus for a miracle. My friend and her husband clutched each other’s hand. Though she is walking through the valley of the shadow of death, when she prayed, she was all thankfulness—shining Christ’s light into the darkness. No face was without tears. Sniffles whispered throughout the room.
We were no longer a group of strangers. We were brothers and sisters—wearing no masks, asking our Father about mysteries beyond our understanding, begging for life while seeking forgiveness for the clouds of unbelief that threatened our luminous prayers. Baring our naked, hurting souls, we were, for a moment, merely a gathering of spirits.
After more than an hour of communion with God and each other, we said, “Amen.” Our insecurities remained peeled away long enough to tearily hug one another and speak a few more words from the heart. Then, inevitably, steadily, our skin came back on. We began to fumble for words, to awkwardly laugh, to tell silly stories to fill the silence.
But answered prayers come from moments of beauty such as we had experienced, and I refuse to give up hope in our good God, who works miracles in hearts on living room rugs and promises to wipe the tears from our eyes.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20