One month ago, on May 11th, I was sitting in a small Friends church in Juli, Peru. it was Mother's Day. We were the first ones to arrive and our host cleaned up the meeting house and visited with us while we waited for others to arrive. We weren't early, per say, but we arrived on time and thus, were early.
We sang fifteen songs over the course of 2 1/2 hours. Some of which were in Aymara, not Spanish. Doing the best I could, I opened my ears and listened with my heart the praise that poured from their lips in a language I had never heard. When we sang in Spanish, I sang out, mixing my gringo voice to theirs.
I remember the sermon, about Hannah and her dedication and follow-through:
Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably. Then she made a vow:And God granted her request and she gave birth to Samuel within the year.Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
If you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain,
If you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me
By giving me a son,
I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you.
I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline. (1 Samuel 1:10-11 Message)
She stayed home and nursed her son until she had weaned him. Then she took him up to Shiloh, bringing also the makings of a generous sacrificial meal—a prize bull, flour, and wine. The child was so young to be sent off! 25-26 They first butchered the bull, then brought the child to Eli. Hannah said, “Excuse me, sir. Would you believe that I’m the very woman who was standing before you at this very spot, praying to God? I prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for. And now I have dedicated him to God. He’s dedicated to God for life.”I remember the pastor speaking about Hannah's pain. Oh,how I missed my own moma and my children this day. I missed my home church, my husband, my family. He spoke of how she was bullied, how miserable she was; how she was in pain. I remember the hearing of her joy when Eli told her to, "Go in peace." God gave me peace that I was right where I was supposed to be on that Sabbath; so far from home.
Then and there, they worshiped God. (1 Samuel 1:23-26 Message)
I remember sitting there on the hard old pew and thinking, "Hannah believed." She believed that praying made a difference. She believed that fasting and getting on ones knees and asking another to pray for her was important. I remember thinking, "Do I believe like that? Do I pray like that?"
The answer is simply, "No. No, I do not." With the feeling of hope from Hannah's life came the feeling of "less than" regarding my own. Suddenly, everywhere I looked, I saw strong prayer lives being lived. I began asking God to show me more. And He did.
Of course He did! From Juli, my heart wanders to Tacna...
Praying scriptures. Setting time aside to prayer for my petitions and praises. Setting time aside to pray for others. Getting on my knees, the floor soft from carpet reminding me of the cement floors the older Peruvian ladies knelt on and acted like they didn't feel the pain! I am such a baby. I felt the cold cement floor, alright. Felt it within moments of kneeling on it. Minutes went by which seemed like hours to my body, before the last amen was said and the Body stood.
An older hand squeezed mine. Then another. Knowing in their eyes. Love in their eyes. Thankfulness in their eyes.
It was worth it. The pain - it was worth it. We were praying together and He was there with us!
As I kneel in prayer, I am glad when it gets a bit uncomfortable. It serves as a reminder to me. A reminder of my time in Peru when we went forward and got on our knees and prayed for each other. It reminds me to "toughen up." It reminds me that my knees have a long ways to go before they are accustomed to the hard ground; much like process the bottoms of our feet go through to walk barefoot. Our feet start tender and after making ourselves harden them up; only then can we walk freely on the bare ground and sharp rocks. So goes the process of getting my knees ready for what is to come.