By Pastor Paula Burchill
When I first became a pastor and was called to pray with people, I felt like a big fake. I thought for sure people could see right through me—to my doubting heart, to how out of my element I felt, to how scared I was. I had to remind myself—constantly—that my job was not simply to be there to make small talk with someone who was sick or dying—my job was to talk to God on their behalf, or with them. My job was to pray. And I have to say it got easier. And now, after 18 years, I find it a joy and a privilege to pray with people. I faked it until I made it.
Fast forward a few years into my ministry, after I took several courses in youth and family ministry. One of the things that was taught over and over was how important parents are in the faith development of their children. More important than Sunday school or church or anything else, is that parents share their faith with their kids. Pray with them, do daily blessings and/or devotions, talk about your faith.
So that is what I taught the parents at my church. I was always sharing ideas of how to pass on the faith and trying to encourage them to pray with their kids.
And then I had kids. When they were little, it wasn’t hard to say prayers with them. But it was very hard to find time to read from the bible. And now it is even harder. And then it started to get hard to pray with them, too. It was weird—because I doubted myself again. Would they think I was a weird mom? Would they be mad that they had to have the mom who was also a pastor and talked about God all the time? And before I knew it, it wasn’t happening much at all. I felt like I wasn’t passing on the faith.
And then I remembered about faking it. We were still sharing the highs and lows of our day, as Pastor Jonathan encourages, and one day I decided I’m just going to pray. I was at the bus stop with one kid who was worried about something and I said, let’s say a prayer. And we did, and then we hugged. And it is getting easier.
It is hard being a parent. And I have come to believe that one of the most effective ways to get better at sharing your faith is to just start faking it until you make it. For me, that has meant also working on my own prayer life. When a worry comes up for me, I try and pray—right away. And then when I also do that for my kids, I am doing it because I have found that prayer is vital for me, too. And then instead of it being about faking it, it becomes about sharing it. Truly sharing a treasure with my kids that I could not imagine being without.
We need each other in faith. We need others to pray with us and for us. Maybe you need to start faking a prayer life with your spouse or your grandkids or a dear friend. There is a teacher at my gym who always tells us to fake it until we make it. She says, just start holding in your stomach and pretty soon, you won’t even have to think about it.
And that is the goal with prayer, too I suppose. That it be such a normal part of our existence that it is like breathing. And that we do it so often, we start to not even think about it.
Fake it…until you make it. God, please help us all!