Mon., Sept. 3, 2018
Luke 11:1 – When Jesus had finished praying, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his followers to pray.”
For Americans, today (Monday) is Labor Day. Most businesses are closed. It’s the last hurrah of summer for some; a symbolic end of summer and the beginning of fall. It’s a national holiday that appreciates work and the need for a break.
I have been thinking about what to do today for several days:
I could paint the upstairs bathroom.
Can the cucumbers I’ve been delaying canning for about a week.
Move some plants in the flower beds that I would like to move before fall.
Continue in the upstairs storeroom, which I have been trying to clean-out for months.
Go for a walk and have lunch with Hubby Rick.
These are all very good ideas. But I kept feeling like there was something else I should be focusing on.
Sunday afternoon, I figured it out.
I would focus the day on prayer.
In its most basic sense, prayer is communion with God. It’s being aware of God in our lives. Having a simple conversation with God, as if you were having a cup of coffee or a soda with God. It’s speaking … and listening.
Too often, we think of prayer as our opportunity to present before God our laundry list of wishes and desires. What we often fail to remember is that the main purpose of prayer is NOT to have God simply answer our big and little requests. Prayer is not about changing God. In its most defining act, prayer is about changing who we are. Maybe look at prayer the way Luther did, “Even if we don’t catch anything, we come back different than when we left.”
Many, many people say to me, “But I don’t know how to pray.” Here’s the great news: there is no wrong way to pray. Honestly, it’s hard to get prayer wrong. Raw prayer is not something we accomplish. It’s something we enter.
I think it is easy for people to assume a narrower bandwidth of prayer than God envisions. We think prayer “must” be done a certain way. God really doesn’t care if you are showering, walking, lying down or sitting straight up in a chair. God is more than happy with a pre-written prescribed prayer, as God is with a spontaneous, off-the-cuff prayer. The words or location or body position are not nearly as important to God as they maybe to us. God is happy when we allow ourselves to show up on God’s radar screen and have even the smallest of interactions.
Here’s what I think we can confirm about prayer: it matters, and we don’t have to get it right. Jesus and the Holy Spirit intervene for us when we don’t get it right. Can I get a “Praise the Lord?”
Prayer can and should be wherever it feels right for you. One suggestion is to do what you love to do, where you feel relaxed and joyful. As you do these things, listen for God while you are at it. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear something exciting.
God has spoken to me in the most mundane ways: while raking leaves, driving in the car, waiting in line at the store and a thousand other ways. We expect God to show up in a particular way when we pray. For assistance with this, think of how C.S. Lewis writes, “The world is crowded with God. God walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake.”
So today, Monday, Labor Day: I plan to remain awake to God’s presence in this world and in my life. As I go about doing some of those things on my potential to-do list, where will I find God? Where will God find me? What is God trying to say to me these days and I haven’t quieted myself long enough to hear? I anxiously await God’s voice in my life.
As I typed these words, it’s Sunday afternoon. The noise of unceasing raindrops that we have heard way too much this week surround me as I sit on our porch with my laptop. Slowly, the sun is trying to peak out behind the dense clouds that just have hung for days over Wisconsin. It maybe just for a minute, but it is a minute of hope.
There is so much I can and need to share with God. And I’m confident God would like a bit more of my attention. I’ll try to make this available to God. Prayer. This is my main goal for the day. If anything else gets accomplished, it’s icing on the cake.
Lord knows, this world needs a few more prayer warriors these days. Will you join me in a day dedicated to prayer? Of taking God with us and seeing God’s loving presence with us throughout the day?
For the reminder to dedicate a day to prayer, I am grateful.
In this day, Lord God, I pray that I can allow my life to quiet a bit more, so I can hear your voice. Bring down the din of the world and allow me to hear your voice in my life. Forgive me for the times I rush through a day, a week, a month and I don’t embrace the opportunity to listen and simply be with you in prayer. Amen.
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