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The Prayer I Haven’t Been Ready To Pray

This is a guest post by the amazing Laurel, who, depending on who she is talking to, calls California, Kentucky, Missouri or Connecticut home (although she currently lives in Utah). She’s the General Manager for the Time Out for Women division at Deseret Book Company who loves traveling around being in the presence of great women more than just about anything else (watching Jane Austen movies notwithstanding). She tries to keep up with her author blog at GoAskLaurel.com (a site for teenage girls) and is almost ready to admit an addiction to blogging in general, writing her own (JustAroundThisCorner.blogspot.com) and blogstalking others (probably yours included).

I pray.
I pray a lot.
I’m the girl who prays while sitting at her desk at work.
I pray whilst (I love having a reason to say that word) driving down the road.
I pray out loud.
I pray in my heart.
I pray like I’m really talking and like He’s really listening.
If they handed out grades for praying, I’d get an “A”.
And so, when I’m sitting in Sunday School listening to a discussion on Alma 34, I figure I don’t really have much to learn. PRAYER…thinking about doing it…the act of doing it…isn’t so much one of those gospel principles I need to work on.
Until this past Sunday during a discussion of Alma 34. Verse 26, specifically.
“But this is not all (Alma says after discussing all the things we should pray over and all the places we should pray from); ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.”
And thus began the conversation with myself.
“Hmmm. Laurel, did you catch that? He said POUR OUT YOUR SOULS.”

“Yeah, I do that. Not a problem. Don’t you remember that time a few weeks ago when I was driving home late at night and I was crying and I said out loud, ‘Come on, Heavenly Father, throw me a bone.’ If that’s not my whole soul, what is?”
“Okay, I’ll give you that, but he wants you to pour out your whole soul in your closet.”
“Check. I’ve actually physically prayed before, from my closet.”
“…and in your secret places.”
“Check. Check. I’ve done that too. I’ve gone into the bathroom at the office. That’s a pretty secret place.”
“…and in your wilderness.”
“Girls Camp…just a few weeks ago. I even challenged the girls to do it too. You don’t get much more ‘wilderness’ than that! Check. Check. Check.”
“I think you’re missing the point, Laurel.”
And then, it happened. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the connection that comes when your heart is finally ready to hear what the spirit has been trying to tell you.
“What if it’s not talking about the place where YOU are? What if this verse is talking about the place where your SOUL is?”
It was like in the movies when time stands still and the scene goes dark, except for the light shining on the one character. In this case, the character was me.
MY closets.
MY secret places.
MY wilderness.
I suddenly realized this was not an invitation to pray from any specific location. This was an invitation to pray from a place in my soul that I’ve never prayed from before.
If I’m being honest (which I might as well be if this is to help any of us), there are parts of my soul that I don’t share. Not with anyone. Not even HIM.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve prayed, collapsed by the side of my bed, crying out (literally) to my maker. I have shared with Him my devastating heartbreaks and asked, pleaded, begged for Him to come and rescue me. And He has. More than once.
But, there have also been times, when I just couldn’t get myself to utter the words. Times when I knew I needed His intervention for the natural man that lies in “my closet” or the deep desires of my heart that are just too tender to talk about in my “secret places” or the questions I have about things I shouldn’t question that sometimes make me feel that I’m stuck in “my wilderness”.
Do I have to state what these things are specifically?
He is GOD , for crying out loud. He is OMNICIENT. He is OMNIPRESENT. He can read my mind and my heart, right? Do I really think I’m hiding anything from Him?
But, that’s not the point. There is something about the act of saying these things out loud…to Him…that is both liberating and binding at the same time. Do I really want to admit what’s there? Do I really want to bring it forward, thus needing to do something about it? Do I really want His help? Do I really want to rise to be more than I am and do the work it would require? Do I really?
Am I the only one who has parts of her soul in those figurative places that need to be poured out to “Him that is able to keep [me] from falling” (Jude 1:24…how much do you love that?)? Am I the only one who has things in her life she can’t bring herself to talk about aloud…even to Him?
Maybe everyone else is further along in their spiritual maturity. Maybe everyone else can freely talk to Him about EVERYTHING. I want to say I am and I can.
I know He understands. I know He gets it. And, I know He’s been waiting for me to get it too.
He knows I’m finally ready to come to Him in a different way than I ever have before. ..with my whole soul…even the part of my soul that has been spending time in the wilderness. Actually, ESPECIALLY that part. If He knows I’m finally ready, then I know I’m finally ready too.
I’m ready to REALLY talk and have Him REALLY listen.

16 thoughts on “The Prayer I Haven’t Been Ready To Pray”

  1. Profound.

    I love it when people share their brilliant insights and analogies with me, because, frankly, I have yet to come up with any on my own.

  2. well put, I think that is somewhere our prayers often don't go, because it takes too much patience or effort–to pull out the dreams, fears, weaknesses, and mistakes, we have shoved in the corners, buried beneath the piles and hidden under our beds

  3. I know Laurel through a friend and she is one of the most lovely spirits around.

    Thanks for the post, Laurel. I have been struggling with my secret places lately and it was nice to read I am not the only one.

  4. Laurel, thanks a lot for making me cry. Sheesh.

    You just nailed it for me. There are secret places. Do we hold secret pain there? The Lord can certainly be a salve for us, but we have to be willing to take the resposibility that comes with it. That's the hard part, isn't it?

  5. I just started reading Elder Hafen's The Broken Heart last night on the plane and it's helping me be a little more ready to pray that prayer. I think I've spent too much of my life not letting the atonement permeate those parts of me in the closet…or the secret places…or the wilderness. But, like you Elizabeth, now that we know it…we have to do it. Or rather, I guess I should say we GET to do it.

    Glad to hear I'm not alone on this one…

  6. this is such good timing for me. i've been running the phrase "more purpose in prayer" (from the hymn) in my head for weeks now, and that's what i've been feeling: that i need to dig deep, and "go there." wherever there is…

    thank you, laurel! i've said it before and i'll say it again: you're amazing!

  7. That was beautiful. Sometimes I'm actually afraid to pray from the secret bare places of my soul. I know I will get an answer. Honestly, sometimes I just pray for the courage to ask the deep questions and hear the answers to said deep questions.

  8. It's like you've been listening to my thoughts/feelings lately. It makes me more in awe of Him…how personally, intimately he knows ME, when there are so many others so like me that he also knows so well.
    It is nice to know I'm not the only one who avoids "that prayer" sometimes.

  9. I just read Alma 34 this morning, and it reminded me of this post. I love the phrase "liberating and binding at the same time." That is so true.

    Thanks for this–it still resonates with me.


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