Speechless cannot describe the depths one can feel during chronic illness and pain. When there are no words left, what do you do, how do you pray, what are the words? Utterances do not even come out correctly. During those years when my brain was not working correctly, every nerve was tender to the thought and I felt more alone than I had ever felt, I turned to our Heavenly Father’s model prayer. He gave me the words when I had none left. He gave me the whole prayer from beginning to end so that I did not need to struggle through prayer when I was beyond speechless. God is good to give us the words we need to worship him in the midst of our hardest moments. He gives us many prayers to choose from in the bible but I chose the Lord’s Prayer, a treasured prayer from my youth.
During those intensely ill years, I knew I was not able to remember the words, literally. My brain had declined so badly that no matter how hard I tried I could not remember the words. So I typed it out in very large lettering because I also could not see very well during that time. I took it one line at a time struggling through it but I knew that the only answer was to have faith and one way I could show faith was to pray something I could read.
I started with reading it from the paper. Then attempting to memorize a line at a time. I have prayed this prayer my whole life but my brain was not allowing me to remember things during this time. It felt like someone was hitting a pause button when a thought would start. I could not remember a beloved prayer or even have full thoughts. There was not a whole lot of processing going on in my brain during that time. I had to have patience with myself as I found a way to love my Lord, no matter what.
As months passed I finally memorized it. It was my priority at the beginning of every day. Knowing that the physical struggles of the day would overwhelm me, I knew to get a good start first thing when I woke up.
During this time I started to take a turn, healing instead of getting worse. I was beyond grateful for this blessing. My health improved enough that I was able to get on my knees every morning to pray the Lord’s Prayer. Don’t get all excited, I did it in bed so that I could handle it. Had to roll this way and that way and get some momentum going and when I finally would land on my knees I had to say it pretty fast so that I could get through the physical pain of that position. No, I am not at all saying that God requires pain to please him or answer our prayers.
You are getting my point. One baby step at a time. Today I am happy to say that I am on my knees, relatively pain-free, every morning still saying the Lord’s Prayer. I now say it twice in a row. After the first time, I take a deep breath, straighten my shoulders opening my heart a little more and preparing more space for this relationship. This continues to be a treasured start to my day. Now I have many of my own words throughout the day to share with the Lord but the reverence of the Lord’s Prayer remains embedded in me.
I found a way to stay in a relationship with the Lord through the hardest event of my life. He gave me the words and then he gave me the strength to find my own voice to share with him in conversation. He is always faithful, always. He does not always heal as we want but he always provides.
Prayer – Matthew 6:5-13
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”
Note: Matthew 6:13 Or from evil; some late manuscripts one, / for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Donations accepted to serve others in their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, HHC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.