Often in the morning as I awake, God gives me songs which become prayers. Usually, it’s just a phrase or tune that causes me to search out the rest of the song and leads to a time of worship in the shower, or as I wait for the kettle to boil. I praise God for this gift. It was not always so.
Many years ago I had recurring bouts of depression. It was a pretty black time in my life. Mornings were the worst. I used to cry because it was morning, and struggle to get out of bed and see the kids off to school. Then I’d return to bed, curl up in a fetal position and weep. Even getting into the shower was difficult although I knew I’d feel better afterwards. Often it took several minutes standing outside the shower with the water running before I could step into the cleansing water.
Even though this was a time of darkness, discouragement and hopelessness, God blessed me by putting a scripture song or Bill Gaither gospel tune in my head each morning when I woke, songs that kept me from complete hopelessness and suicidal despair, and eventually led to the following experience:
One day, while trying to cry out to God in prayer, I felt I couldn’t even pray right. I was a failure even at that! Like the paralytic in Luke 5, I was paralyzed and felt useless. Believing Satan’s lies—that I was a terrible mother, wife, friend and Christian—how could Jesus still love me when I was such a failure?
Suddenly, peace surrounded me, protecting me from the lies of the enemy, and within me I felt the Father say, “That’s okay. Rest in the prayers of your friends.”
That day, those holy words echoing the healing of the paralytic put a new song in my heart, and began the process of calling me back to wholeness and joy, wrapped in a cocoon of God’s love and held securely in the prayers of my friends.
Do I still rely on the prayers of my friends? Yes. But I also remember quite clearly when Jesus told me it was time to pick up my bed and walk, time for me to pray again, both for others and myself.
God still gives me reminders and encouragement through “morning songs.” And quite often I’m led to share the song or a prayer with others in person or by email; or just to pray in the Spirit as needs and people are brought into my heart and mind. That’s the gift God gives to me: Allowing words of encouragement and love to flow through me to others as I give praise: “He gave me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning / The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness / That we might be trees of righteousness / The planting of the Lord that he might be glorified” (based on Isaiah 61).
And oh yes, my morning song today was “Diamonds” by Hawk Nelson: “He’s making diamonds, diamonds out of us.”
Phyllis Ramer (firstname.lastname@example.org), is coordinator of the Women of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. She attends Kingsfield-Zurich Mennonite Church.