Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying

Prayer time is a very sacred and special time in church, in small groups, in Bible Study, and at home. Prayer is the vessel that drives the church. Lately, praying with my church family and friends has taken on a new dimension. I almost hesitate to share it here because it is so personal. But, as I continue to learn to hear with my CI's, prayer time in a group and home setting has become more meaningful and special.

For years, I usually felt left out when it came time to pray because I couldn't see the lips of the person praying. Or I sat too far away. Unless I could see or read the person’s lips that was praying, I usually prayed alone. It’s hard to pray alone when you feel "forgotten." I'm sure I wasn't the only one in a church environment that needed to read lips or see a face during prayer time.

And, even if I could read the person’s lips that was speaking, I was the only one in the room with her eyes open. By doing that, I felt like I was always invading someone’s personal space and privacy during prayer time. I could see their facial expression or their tears running down their faces. And, I knew whose hands went up during an "invitation." Often times a family member or friend would sit next to me and silently mouth or tell me what was being prayed.

And many times I would get frustrated because people in church or Bible Study would not be aware that I needed to see their faces. They would turn away from my view unintentionally or bow their heads where I couldn't "see" them. I’ve been to churches where the pastor would turn and have his back to the congregation and face the altar during prayer time. Once they realized that I needed to “see” them, they would usually be willing to accomodate and change their position for me. Especially Pastor Steve at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Ohio. He was extra sensitive to my need to hear and understand him during this special time. He would actually come down to the aisle near the front of the church and make eye contact with me as he prayed. That meant a lot because I knew he cared. I always appreciated that because he never “forgot” and knew when I was in the congregation. Other pastors or leaders would often forget and turn away. And I would wait until I heard the familiar words to “The Lord’s Prayer” to know that prayer time was over.

Over the last few months, prayer time in a group setting has become very emotional for me. Because I can “hear” the people praying. I don't need to read lips all the time anymore. I can hear AND understand Pastor Jeff at Sycamore Tree UMC when he prays. He has wonderful prayers and speaks very clearly and at a nice pace. I've listened to his prayers and read his lips for many years so his style and voice is familiar to me. Two years ago I had to "read" every word he spoke. Today, I can understand his prayers without the need to read his lips. And I am able to focus and feel the spirit moving within the church body as he prays. Same thing in Bible Study. And in church meetings.

It helps if I am familiar with a person's voice. Listening without reading lips is hard work and sometimes I feel the need to take a break and "look" again. Part of it is habit because I've read lips for most of my life! I usually "look" when someone is speaking softly or too fast because I don't want to miss anything. It doesn't take long for the tears to start welling up in my eyes because this is a whole new experience. . . to actually feel and touch the spirit within the walls of the church and "hear God."

The words to the following song keeps coming to my mind so I'll close this entry with the lyrics. These words were written by a man named Ken Medema. And he is blind. But he can hear the people praying because he can't see them. . .

Lord, listen to your children praying,
Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
Lord, listen to your children praying,
Send us love, send us power, send us grace!

Lord, thank you. I can hear your people praying!


Anonymous said...

Hi Laurie, I checked your blog this AM and loved what you wrote about praying! It seems as if every church service, every Bible study that I have been in the past few weeks has talked about prayer. It makes me sad that you have felt so alone during prayer time, that if I had only thought about what you were missing, that it was a difficult time for you, we could have been more sensitive. Our church had a back to school night for the children earlier this fall and the guest that they had in was talking with the children. He said that when you go to church and when you pray, the teacher always has you bow your head and close your eyes and fold your hands. He told them that instead for this day and this prayer he wanted them all to look to heaven open their eyes and reach their little hands toward heaven. Carrie was in the room and said that the kids loved it! How I wish we could go back a few years with you, lift our heads, look at our friends and have precious prayer together.

I have been thinking about you this week, knowing that you are leaving for Texas! Have a wonderful time. I will be praying for you, that all goes well, and all that doesn’t quite work out the way you thought it would, will be a fond and fun memory of a special day. Enjoy every moment! Love you! S

Laurie said...

Thank you, Shelley. Your words mean so much! Love ya!

Anonymous said...

I live in the Knoxville area and my aunt is praying about having a cochlear implant. She was told there are no Drs in Knoxville who can do the surgery. Is this true? She is 68 yrs old. From reading your blogs it appears to me that you did have your surgery in Knoxville. If so can you name the Dr? Thank you so much.

Laurie said...

Hello Anonymous! Yes, there are actually two doctors in Knoxville that do CI surgeries. Dr. Merwin of Denneny, Merwin, Brown & Howard did my surgery. His office number is 865-777-1727 or 865-862-5999. My surgery was done at Baptist Hospital. Email me at if you need to talk more. I'd be happy to help!

Dr. Lilly at Children's Hospital does CI surgery for children.

And, no one is too old for this surgery!

Anonymous said...

Dear Laurie,
Thank you for having the courage to share your experience. I am part of a team planning our first church prayer gathering. Although I stumbled over your post while looking for the words to Lord, listen to your children praying..., it has made me more aware of how important it is to create a prayer environment where everyone can fully participate. Many blessings! Andy