I was in college when I first started writing my prayers. And writing has been a part of my spiritual practice ever since.
The year 2020 has taken a toll on my spiritual life. I started this year going to church every day— literally.
My church was having its annual 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. I was fasting sweets, chips, Cheez-Its, and alcohol. I was going to church at 6 am every single weekday, 9 am every Saturday, and 8 am every Sunday to pray.
Each morning I would sit and pray and write and I’d never felt closer to God in my life.
On Day 20 of 21 Days of Prayer, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I felt betrayed. To be honest, I was pissed. I was doing all I could think of to be faithful to God and I was rewarded with this.
But then someone reminded me “God didn’t do this, but God will get your through this.” Another friend believed that 21 Days of Prayer was God preparing me for battle.
I’ve held on to these ideas — most of the time. Sometimes, I still feel angry and hopeless. Sometimes I’m too tired to feel anything at all.
Praising Through a Pandemic
In the month after my diagnosis, I continued to go to church religiously (pun intended) even when God and I weren’t on speaking terms.
Then the pandemic hit and church went virtual. Ironically, it was during this time— when church was just me, God, and my laptop — that my attitude started to shift. Soon, I began to fully rely on God to get me through everything. I listened to gospel music or sermons while on my daily walks. I wrote scriptures on pink index cards and carried them with me to chemotherapy. And I wrote in my prayer journal every single day— sometimes twice or even three times a day.
But after the senior pastor of my church engaged in some social media activity that made me question where he stands regarding racial injustice, I stopped logging on for Sunday services.
I had planned to find another church to tune in to but I never did. It just got easy to use that time for something else. Every day I feel myself drifting farther and farther away from God.
But I can’t use church— or my lack thereof — as an excuse. In The Color Purple Alice Walker writes, “Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me.” And I couldn’t agree more.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe the church is important for both personal growth and community service. But I don’t have to go to church to have a spiritual practice. That’s all on me.
Writing Is Worship
Writing can be a form of worship.
Rachel Hollis explained it best in her 2018 book Girl, Wash Your Face:
Creating is the greatest expression of reverence I can think of because I recognize that the desire to make something is a gift from God. The freedom to carve out time and have a safe place to create that art is a blessing of the highest level in a world where so many people are unable to have either.
I’m not sure when I will be able to step foot inside a church again. And honestly, I’m not even sure when I will begin to log on for virtual church services again. But I can and I will have a spiritual practice, nonetheless.
I will write letters to God every day.
I’ll write down Scriptures and what those sacred words are speaking to me.
I will write lists of gratitude and confessions of my wrongdoings. And I will write plans for how I can serve others.
I will write and I will worship.