Perhaps you’ve gathered that I’m in a bit of a faith deconstruction season. Or rather a faith reconstruction season. Truth be told, I think I’ve been deconstructing since the moment I became a Christian twenty years ago, asking (too many) questions when I didn’t see Christian behavior lining up with the gospel that I was reading about and experiencing for myself. I find that the term “deconstruction” is overused and deeply misunderstood by Christians who aren’t actually deconstructing themselves. They make it sound like we’re burning our faith to the ground, abandoning it completely. Sometimes this is true, and I cast no judgement on people who travel down that path. Of course there are people who have been deeply hurt by the Church who throw spirituality away entirely. Sometimes they can’t find their way back, and sometimes they don’t want to. But in my wanderings, I’ve found that most people who leave church are not leaving their faith, and they’re not leaving God. In fact, many of us leave *because* of our faith. We no longer want to be a part of an institution that has caused so much harm yet refuses to acknowledge it and make amends for it. Instead of burning it all down, I like to look at deconstruction as taking my faith right down to the studs. The foundation is solid, the structure is there, but all of the other pieces that make a house a home are up for reexamination.


For a time, I had to tuck my Bible away. I couldn’t bring myself to open it because I had seen how its words could be used as a weapon against others. And I didn’t feel guilty about setting it aside. Experience has taught me that Jesus is not condemning. He is gentle, and He is patient. And structured Bible reading time is not a requirement for being a “good” Christian, no matter what anyone says. God is with us anyway.

The presence of God is infinite, everywhere, always, and forever. You cannot not be in the presence of God.
There’s no other place to be.  -Richard Rohr


When I was ready, I began to reread the gospels over and over, to remind myself of who Jesus is. And I found a more loving, generous, grace-filled, inclusive God than the one I had learned about in church. My NIV Bible, cracked and worn from years of study, underlined, and circled in pen, lay off to the side as I explored new versions: The Message, The NRSV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, The First Nations Version – all offering me new language and insights to consider. The walls of my house began to take on a new shape. Sheetrock, then paint. Do I choose the color of the evangelical churches I left behind? Black and white seem so limiting. Or is God’s kin-dom more colorful? Varied and unique in all its many ways.


Lately I’ve been thinking about prayer and how complicated it has become. How do we pray when we don’t know what we believe anymore? When questions and doubt make us so much less certain than we were before. How do we continue to offer prayers when they don’t seem to reach? When injustice surrounds us; when fear and anger continue to dominate our headlines. How do we pray when the miracles we hope for are never realized? When cancer takes our loved ones; when broken relationships are not restored. And how do we explain why some prayers are answered and others aren’t? Certainly it’s not because we are less faithful or less favored.


I’ve always had a complicated relationship with prayer. In the past, I’ve often compared myself to others who sit on prayer teams for hours and use flowery language to express their thanks and desires to God, and I have felt insignificant. I am uncomfortable praying in public. Sometimes the words won’t come. Prayers at mealtime and scripted prayers at church can feel like ramblings or wish lists to me – inorganic, forced even and rote. I mean, if we believe that God is good, don’t we also believe that He only wants goodness for us? And if he knows every hair on our heads, doesn’t he already know what we need?

The longer I live, the less I understand, it seems. Faith deconstruction permits me to have more questions than answers, and to live with the uncertainty. I’ve gotten cozy with the words “I don’t know.”  I’ve become comfortable with ambiguity, even. With my certainty blown to shreds, I now simply consider how I can advocate for the underdog, the underrepresented, and the under-served. How can I help to make the world just a little bit better for my neighbors, whom God has called me to love?”


I want to believe in prayer. I believe that God hears us. I believe that He is with us, and loves us, and wants goodness for us. And though I don’t often pray for outcomes anymore, I do still pray for miracles – because I cling to a stubborn hope that has become a daily discipline. A spiritual practice, like a muscle that needs to be flexed and strengthened. Sometimes prayer changes things, but mostly prayer changes me.

I’ve never considered myself a gifted pray-er, and it seems I’m in good company. In her book, “An Altar in the World,” Barbara Brown Taylor confesses, “I am a failure at prayer. I would rather show someone my checkbook stubs than talk about my prayer life.” But then she goes on to consider that perhaps we have the wrong idea about prayer. Perhaps much of what we do in our everyday lives is in fact prayer.

“Prayer is more than saying set prayers at set times. Prayer, is waking up to the
presence of God no matter where I am or what I am doing.”
-Brother David Steindl-Rast

These days, my prayers look much simpler. They might be a few whispered words of gratitude, acknowledging a godly encounter:
“Thank you.”
”You see me.”

I might seek guidance when I’ve come to the end of myself, particularly in situations I can no longer control. (That whole control thing is a myth, btw.)
“Help me.”
“Lord, give me strength.”
“What the heck do I do now?”

I’ll pray for presence, when someone I love is suffering, and I feel powerless to do anything about it.
“God be near.”
“Through your people, meet every need.”
“Show me how I can lighten a burden.”

And sometimes prayer might look like wailing and lament when that’s the only true response.

These prayers, though simple, are a true revelation of my heart – my gratitude, my longing, my deepest hopes and desires. I’ve come to believe that this is what God actually asks of us, too. In my questions and in my doubt, I was relieved to see Jesus’ words jump off the page in Matthew 6:7:

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.”

There are books and books on prayer, and essays about how to pray effectively. But He makes prayer and communing with God accessible to all of us. Not just to those with the gift of many words. He makes it clear: use few words because He already knows what we need. Maybe I’m not doing this wrong after all. Maybe it is a daily dance of acknowledging and expressing joy, and gratitude, and contentment; grief, and longing, and lament. Just everyday life, in communion with God.

Several spiritual mentors have introduced me to the practice of breath prayers – a simple, ancient form of prayer. Breath prayers have helped me to center myself, and they remind me to slow down and breathe. Deeply. I think most of us can benefit from a few moments of stillness and a few deep breaths. It has become a helpful practice for me to choose just two lines to meditate on, and breathe through them. So I’ll close with a few breath prayers that I wrote this month. You can create your own for your circumstances, or search for others online. The beautiful thing about these prayers is that you can do them anywhere: in a quiet corner in your home, beside the river, in your car, or in the bathroom (I see you parents of toddlers.)

Inhale: There is a river that brings joy;
Exhale: The sacred home of the Most High.

Inhale: God is the very breath I breathe;
Exhale: You are with me.

Inhale: I breathe in God’s light and love;
Exhale: I exhale all of my cares, knowing God cares for me.

Inhale: Love;
Exhale: And be loved.


Let’s take care of ourselves and each other in this upside down world. Breathe. Settle into a mantra. Practice hope like our lives depend on it. (It does.) And go out into the world to love and be loved. 💛