I found myself near a restless four-year-old boy who was playing with a kind of stick; whether it was a toy, a straw or a Lego, I don’t remember. But, he accidentally poked me with it. And, knowing that he was bored with having to wait on his mother for so long, I feigned shock and pain which made him get wide-eyed and then, laugh. So, like any four-year-old, he did it again and again and again, each time expecting my shock and look of pain which I freely and quite dramatically shared with him.
Finally, when his mother had had enough of the both of us, I whispered to him, asking, “Look. Are you going to stop poking me?” Since we were at eye level to each other, he looked straight into my eyes as he thought of his answer and then whispered to me, “Yeah...But...Nope”. He then proceeded to poke me again. I had to move away before we both got in trouble…again.
That brief encounter came to my mind after I “marinated” in an honest, open prayer of “Bernard”, which was based on the biblical account of a father’s encounter with Jesus after the Disciples could not heal his convulsive son.
In Mark 9:19, it is recorded how Jesus responded to the lack of his Disciples’ belief: Jesus said, “O’ unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
Mark 9:22- 24: “The father asked Jesus, ‘...if you can do anything, let your heart be moved with pity, and help us.’ ‘If you can?’ said Jesus, ‘Everything is possible for him who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me in my unbelief!’”
Help me in my unbelief...what does that mean? And how does it relate to the “yeah...but...nope”?
Bernard’s prayer is a kind of “yeah...but...nope” of our heart
Bernard’s prayer is found on p. 151, under the “Prayers of Affirmation” in Prayers for Today by Kurt Bjorklund. Read it out loud so that you really hear these words:
Lord, I want to love you, yet I’m not sure.
I want to trust you, yet I’m afraid of being taken in.
I know I need you, yet I’m ashamed of the need.
I want to pray, yet I’m afraid of being a hypocrite.
I need my independence, yet I fear to be alone.
I want to belong, yet I must be myself.
Take me Lord yet leave me alone.
Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.
First, I am amazed at the familiarity of these words. How was it that this Bernard was able to pen the words that are often in my own heart? It takes my breath away to hear my own voice repeating these words as I read this prayer out loud; this is being a little too honest before a Holy God. It’s as though I am being “poked” by the Holy Spirit and I cannot feign any shock and pain at the familiarity of these thoughts...these words are mine, too.
And secondly, I feel a sense of relief in realizing that I am not alone in these thoughts. These are universal, honest words from a human soul before a Holy Creator God. God gave us words, Scripture, and He gave us the Holy Spirit to “poke” our souls or convict us when we read Scripture or the Bible.
Build your own history of God’s Grace in your life.
This prayer is a kind of “yeah...but...nope” of our heart, mind and soul before Him. I took the liberty of paraphrasing Bernard’s words into my own, keeping with the same line of thinking:
Yeah, I want to love you, but nope, I’m not sure how or what that looks like.
Yeah, I want to trust you, but nope I fear letting myself become vulnerable.
Yeah, I know I need you, but nope I think it might be embarrassing to have that level of need.
Yeah, I want to pray, I really do, but nope, I’m not worthy and I am unsure of how to pray.
Yeah, I want to be my own person You designed me to be, but nope, what if I end up “odd” and lonely because of what others will think of me?
Yeah, I want to belong to You, but nope, I’m afraid I might not be me...and who will I be?
Yeah, Lord...please take my heart, mind and soul but, could you leave me alone, too?
Yeah Lord, I really do believe in You. Help me in the constant thoughts and actions when I keep saying “nope, no, not really, not now” to You.
Aside from this prayer, our daily walk might go something like:
Sunday: Wow. What a great message. I am going to trust that God will show me how He wants me to be...especially in my relationships with _____.
Monday: Yeah, I want to love you God, but it is hard at work...in my family...with my friends. Will you change them for me? (What message?)
Tuesday: Yeah, I know I should trust you, but I really think I need to say...or go ahead and do…. (Did I really ask you to lead me?)
Wednesday: Yeah, I am still praying but, since I don’t seem to hear from you, I’ll ask ______for their advice. I (I don’t have time to read my Bible.)
Thursday: Yeah, I should pray before I start the day, but I feel like a hypocrite because I haven’t talked to You all week. (I forgot that yesterday was a little awkward because I did not go to You)
Friday: I feel like a phony, Lord. I should have spoken up when...but, I feared being rejected by_____ (I guess I never really trust that You are with me or that You Love me.)
Saturday: Tomorrow is Sunday...I know I should go to church, but I don’t want to go out of guilt. Give me a desire to want to go. (I had a hard week, Father. You understand.)
Sunday: Wow. What a great message. I am going to trust God………
The key to getting rid of the “nope” factor in my prayers? Build your own history of God’s Grace in your life.
I Samuel 12:24: “I will fear You, Lord, and serve You in truth with all my heart, For I contemplate the great things You have done for me.” (My underline)
When I finally do sit down and read, reread, write out a Scripture passage, make it my own by asking God to show me what it means and then pray to see Him today...not just list my prayer requests before a Holy God, only then, do I start to get rid of the “Yeah...But...Nope” response to the Holy Spirit’s “poking” of my soul.
Begin with Psalm 46...to Be still and KNOW God. He is a Good God of Love Who is Sovereign over all the Earth.
Yeah. Yes. For sure. No doubt. No wavering. No second guessing. Truth.
Kay has served as Director of Women's Ministry first as a volunteer and then on Staff since 2006.
Her joy in ministry is in hearing women talk about their spiritual growth or newfound faith in Jesus, whether through a weekend message and Life Group experience or in a women's Bible study, a special event, in a mentoring relationship or at a women's retreat.
She and her husband Matt, their two sons, two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren live in Butler.