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  • Writer's pictureMarnie Hammar

On Picking Up Our Broken Pieces

Whether he likes or not (he doesn’t), my middle son unloads the dishwasher every day. Last week, as he was stretching to put a serving dish away, his elbow came down on a glass, spilling it onto the counter and then the floor. It shattered. Twice. The pieces were small and devastatingly sharp, piercing his feet, drawing blood, through his socks. We all froze, scared to walk through our own kitchen. Ironic, isn’t it, that the room in our home set aside for nourishment became hazard?

We immediately all stopped moving and hatched a plan for who would do what before we took a single step. “You take a giant step that way to get out of the mess.” “I’ll grab the broom and dustpan.” “Dad will clear the counters after we get the biggest shards.” We washed the clean dishes. We mopped the floors. We moved things. We wiped things down. We removed the racks from the dishwasher. The pieces of glass were everywhere.

Two days later, my garbage disposal wasn’t working right. I found nothing as I fished around, so summoned my magic-fix-it-all husband and sure enough, we discovered more pieces of broken, lingering.

As I scroll through my social feed these days, I see broken shards of glass everywhere. Some are fresh breaks, some are lingering in the disposal. All hurt.

We’re all a bit ripped open, aren’t we?

Here we all stand, frozen in the kitchen, staring at so many ragged edges. It doesn’t matter which doorway you peer in from — the pieces of hurt lie exposed, waiting.The chasm that divides us cuts deep, the pain and the tension bleeds far beyond sides, and our gaping wounds need attention.

We’re broken.

This isn’t about politics or results.

This isn’t about parties or partisanship.

This is about our brokenness.

This week, when I stood in church with my fellow socially distanced worshippers, my mask absorbed my many tears as I sang:

“Come alive, come alive, come alive dry bones.

Come alive, come alive, come alive dry bones.

Awake, arise, Inhale the light.

Come alive, come alive.”[1]

This familiar song, one I’ve pled for my own spiritual health, shifted in my soul. It became a cry for our beloved church. It felt urgent, a plea for His bride to come alive.

Perhaps, dear church, this brokenness is our call to come alive. To gather each other up from the pain. To pick up the broken pieces. To begin wiping things clean. To turn with renewed commitment to the One Who Heals.

It feels a big proposition, maybe, in these days, but then I remember a phrase I heard some weeks ago. A phrase that was new to me: Let us pray until we pray.

Traditionally a Puritan phrase and practice [2], it’s a mindset for prayer, challenging us to enter into a deeper kind of prayer. It’s the kind of prayer that begins with a sort of emptying of my own stuff so that I can move on to pray for and about things that are outside of me. Don A. Carson, founder and theologian-at-large of The Gospel Coalition, explains that, “To enter the spirit of prayer, we must stick to it for a while. If we “pray until we pray,” eventually we come to delight in God’s presence, to rest in his love, to cherish his will. Even in dark or agonized praying, we somehow know we are doing business with God.”[3]

This phrase, “pray until you pray,” keeps hammering like a heartbeat in my mind, as a step towards picking up these pieces of division and brokenness.

Sometimes, I’m too frozen to pray, as I stare at the pieces of glass around me. My thoughts and fears and selfishness get in the way. Do you feel that way too? But I go back to those lyrics from Sunday. Their cry continues, asking us all, “Are you waiting on heaven? Or is it waiting on you? For the Holy Ghost is already in the room.”

He’s already here, waiting for my prayers. It’s time to lift my drooping hands and strengthen my weak knees, (Hebrews 12:12) to pray the kind of prayer that goes beyond me.

This brokenness is waiting. The counters are covered. The pieces are sharp.

Let’s pray until…

…we get past our thoughts and elevate His.

…we don’t see ourselves anymore.

…we release the constructs of what we think is needed.

…we lay aside our agendas.

…we see each other as God sees us.

…we want only His truth and healing.

…we ache for healing for all — even, especially, those “not like us.”

…we long for God’s will over ours.

…the only thing that matters is His kingdom.

Let’s pray until we trust God. Let’s pray until we pray.

Photo credit: Paul Kapischka, Unsplash, Broken Glass.

[1] Hillsong Worship, “Awake” Songwriters: Benjamin Hastings / Michael Fatkin / Scott Ligertwood, Come Alive lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

[2] “Pray until you pray,” thought to be a Puritan saying, also attributed to Dr. Moody Stuart by A. W. Tozer in his article, "Pray Until You Pray."

[3] Don A. Carson, “8 Lessons from the School of Prayer.”


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