Public prayer is difficult for me. It used to just flow but since I don’t think on my feet anymore, it’s difficult for me to pray in front of others. For this reason, I always write my prayers down when I know I’m going to pray before a group. All this came back to my mind again since I led Sunday School this past Sunday. I wrote down an opening prayer and planned to ask someone to offer a closing one. When the time came, I changed my mind. It just seemed like as the leader, I needed to pray. So I gave it a whirl.
It went okay but I had a little difficulty with word finding. Brain injury survivors often have difficulty coming up with a word. When I was in rehab, I did all sorts of activities to help me with this. At first every day conversations were difficult. The word would be in my brain somewhere but I couldn’t find it. I became really paranoid and worried that folks would think I was not smart since I seemed to always forget words. It took a few years, but it got much better. I also learned how to describe the word and usually the other person could figure out what I was trying to say.
I’ve been visiting older people for some time now and I can relate to their frustration at not being able to think of a word since it always makes me mad when I have this difficulty. When we get older it is more difficult for us to remember words. I think for them it is complicated since they are near the end of their lives and have already experienced many losses and this is just one more. I view my difficulty as a gift in these situations since I have a glimpse into how they feel.
I always pray after a pastoral visit. Before it wasn’t a problem because I could sum up the visit and then pray about it. Summarizing something is very difficult now so I’ve learned to pull out one thing from the visit to include in my prayer. I also get tongue tied before a group which is what happened on Sunday. However I’ve learned that many of my challenges won’t get better unless I practice them over and over again. So I’ll keep at it.
Do you have word finding challenges? How have you handled them? What are your thoughts about public prayer? Feel free to comment here or email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org.