God, I write.
Father, I write.
Please, I write.
A few lines or paragraphs or lists of wants, needs, sins. I write prayers for the same reason I write many things: for the right expression or understanding. I write prayers to slow myself and think about what or whom I am seeking.
A couple of years ago, I knelt down to help my son with his sandal and I felt a tightness in my right knee and quad. I knew immediately something was wrong but ignored the pull, running for another week or so, until my knee swelled so painfully, I had to stop. I’ve been looking for a tidy summary of that year and half long experience, waiting for my knee, which had no physical injury appear on an MRI, to heal. Physical therapy provided my body with much-needed strength training, but my knee didn’t heal.
My notebooks from that time are packed with prayers about my knee. I confessed selfish motivation, on multiple pages. I played with syntax and logic. I wrote a single line over and over like a mantra: Please heal my knee. I thought if I hit the right combination of words – written or spoken – with the proper measure of humility and boldness, then God would just heal me. And it didn’t happen and it didn’t happen and it didn’t happen.
Until it did. But not because of a perfect combination of words written longhand. I don’t know why my knee finally healed when it did.
I am writing about that experience, carefully. I pressed hard into prayer. I often felt abandoned, stupid or misled as I sought healing. A lot churned up in the process: selfishness, idolatry, vanity, anger. It was a knee: it wasn’t cancer or paralysis or divorce. Now I am writing about the knee without knowing what clarity I’ll find from remembering, or what I might open to: questions of faith, prayer and healing. Very likely, I’ll write around the topic and leave it again, for another time.
But I think even that is worth it.