“God, give me guts.”

So prayed Eli Mygatt, defending his hometown of Danbury back during the Revolutionary War while the British were burning it right down.

Eli cut straight to the chase. Had to get there quick because flames move fast, like we all know.

Speaking plainly to God in his plain need, Eli just up and asked what we all sort of need to ask sometimes, without fancy phrases or flourishes. Just honest words. Honest need.

Honest-to-God need.

This is the very best way to pray. Maybe the only way to really pray. By being real.

The way you talk when there’s no room for pretending and no point in trying to impress anyone, because who has the time for that when the time we have is so fleeting?

Who has time to pretend that life isn’t hard, and even God knows that it takes a ton of guts to really live.

A ton of guts to be honest and brave and  who you really are.

And you and I know that the hard work of picking up the mess in a house or the mess in a life takes a ton of guts.

The mess of a world can’t ever be cleaned up without a ton of guts.

But it’s easy, too easy, to try to fit in, pretend, impress. Too easy to swallow words we really want to say, accept the status quo even when we know that the status quo stinks.

I’ve heard folks say that the phrase “do not be afraid” appears 365 times in the Bible. I don’t know if it really does, but I do know that we need this – we need to be told this, to remember this – that we don’t have to be afraid because God knows. Knows that life is hard and that it takes courage to really live it.

God knows this.

He knows it’s scary to be us. Scary to speak up when something needs to be spoken. That it takes guts to stand up for what’s worth standing up for, to walk through the fire instead of running away from it.

Because being a peacemaker isn’t about staying quiet and keeping the peace, but about speaking up for peace, speaking out on behalf of those who don’t have any.

And living faith isn’t about perfect prayers with fancy phrases and flourishes, but just honest words and the honest work of putting skin on that faith and taking it out into the real world and really doing for the last and the least and the needing and the hurting.

We need guts for that.

“God, give me guts.”

Honest words. Honest need.

The very best way to pray.


(a re-edited post from the archives)

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