Anyone who knows me even a little, knows I can’t do two things at once.
For all the good Samaritans who pull over to make sure I’m OK on the side of the road — thank you! All is well, I just can’t talk on the phone and drive at the same time. I won’t take your phone call in the grocery store, because if I am focused on you, I am also not actually shopping. Instead, you should know that I am repeatedly pushing my empty cart up and down the same cereal aisle like a loon. Ask me a question while I’m thinking about something else, and you will stand there indefinitely, completely
annoyed amazed that I manage to function in such a productive and efficient society as ours.
That said, how is it that I can do a thousand things at once when it’s time to pray? I am a multi-tasking PHENOM when trying to be still and listen to my Heavenly Father. Why, of all the times in the day, is it exactly during prayer that I remember I need to put air in the left back tire of the Honda?
And, Jesus, does the gas station near me even have an air compressor? Will it need quarters (how many?) or can I use a card? Oh man! Where is my debit card? It could still be in the back pocket of my shorts — are those in the wash, I wonder? Now that I think about it, I really don’t like those shorts — I’m going to donate them when they come out of the wash. But this time I’m going to put all the Goodwill stuff in plastic bags, because last time the sweet man took the good laundry baskets along with the clothes. I wish I’d said something. Next time I’ll say something. I need to remember to swing by Target on the way home and pick up a couple of baskets and some ‘Thank You’ cards. Ugh. I feel bad that it’s taken so long to write those thank you’s — my birthday was a month ago! I have this nagging feeling that it’s someone’s birthday today. I’ll check Facebook when I’m done praying and confirm…
All this chatter goes on and on. TIMES A MILLION.
Prayer is difficult, because it requires us to stop talking to ourselves for a brief moment. I generally prefer to seek my own counsel and work it all out with myself, don’t you? Around and around we go, playing out hundreds of scenarios and chasing our tails down infinity bunny trails.
What will be best? What will hurt less? How will I handle this person today? What will I be about? How will I get it done?
But when we really pray we seek the LORD’s counsel. We invite Him into our conversations and work it all out with him. Sometimes we might use our words in our prayers, but mostly we need ‘only’ to get quiet, and listen carefully to His words to us.
Conversations with God look rather different from the conversations we have with ourselves. In holding court with ourselves, we recycle the same muddy and defensive thoughts over and over again. When we talk with ourselves, we circle around and down the same hairy drains we always have. But when we listen to God, he gives us new thoughts – crystal, clear, life-giving thoughts from heaven.
In listening to our own counsel, there is an inordinate amount of mental energy spent justifying ourselves. But in listening to God’s counsel, we are set free from our frantic spinning. In seeking God’s presence, we ask to be shaped by his truth, and not by the world’s. We feel our Father’s affection for us, and notice that our affection also grows for him.
We all want to dwell in our own presence. It is comfortable in our own minds, even if it’s cramped. But in prayer, we want more of God’s expansive and good mind. It is His words that shape and inform our thoughts. Yes, we want his wisdom and his comfort – and we’d never turn down an answer we’ve been desperately seeking – but mostly in the prayerful quiet, we realize that we mostly want Him.
Peace to you, as you seek God’s presence today.
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”