As I was saying to my Bible study group a couple weeks ago, I have struggled personally to make quiet time for prayer. Between running a family, working, volunteering, blogging, Bible study, and going, going, going, I will allow myself to forget to make quiet time to spend with God. Oh sure, I’ll remember a quick morning prayer, short prayers throughout the day, and evening examinations, but many days, unless I stay determined, I may not have actual quiet time to simply be in God’s presence. Knowing this weakness, I try to give myself opportunities throughout the week, especially walking or hiking.
One of my blogging acquaintances first put this in my mind several years ago when she pointed out that she was spending so much time blogging that it was interfering with her prayer life, so she had decided to take a break from her blog. That shook me because I had become accustomed to thinking of my blogging time as time spent with God. I realized that I was mistaken, and I was grateful to her for mentioning this, because clearly I myself had rationalized my online time as prayer when in fact, it wasn’t.
A second opportunity for growth came when I read that Dr. Michael Barber teaches his classes at John Paul the Great University:
Prayer should be more than a monologue–a litany of requests. As I tell my students, we need to talk to Jesus more than we talk about Jesus. But if your idea of prayer is simply rattling off requests, you miss the point.
Now, honestly, I don’t rattle off requests to God when I pray…although I have a lot of “bless him, her, this and that”s. But the comment from my blogging friend and Dr. Barber’s teaching got me to thinking about how much time I actually make for God. When I took away the time I was spending talking about Him, it wasn’t very much time. Dr. Barber was right on the mark. I was spending more time talking ABOUT Jesus than talking TO Jesus. It was a spiritual kick in the pants and I’ve been mindful of it for the last year to two.
I realize that I am not alone is this. So many of us practicing Christians think we know God because we study and talk about Him. The Christian rock band Remedy Drive even wrote a song called Get to Know You the lyrics of which are:
I heard so much of you I wrote a book
Thick with thoughts of you that I heard were true
The critics read my work and they reviewed
‘He wrote of things he’d heard but never really knew’
I’d say it’s time that I get to know you
More then just what I’ve been told
I’d say it’s time that I get to know you
I want to know from my soul
If a lack of intimacy with God is a prevalent problem even among the faithful, how can we repair that? What can we do to draw closer to God? Dr. Barber’s advice is helpful when he goes on to write:
Spending time in his presence through contemplation helps us remain with him and helps us hear his voice so that our prayer is not simply about what we say to him.
…We need to be still. We need to place ourselves in God’s presence. (italics mine)
Isn’t that beautifully said? “….place ourselves in God’s presence.” In other words, quiet our minds, stop our hands from fiddling, our eyes from darting, our mouths from prattling. Place ourselves in God’s presence and allow Him to come to us. Can we be brave, humble, or trusting enough to receive? Can we put away our defenses, our rationalizations, our attacks, our petty grievances and constant desires and let God wash over us? God will come to us when we make ready for him.
…and behold the Lord passes, and a great and strong wind before the Lord, overthrowing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: but the Lord is not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: but the Lord is not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, a fire: but the Lord is not in the fire. And after the fire, a whistling of a gentle air. And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle…”
….because God was in the whisper.
Next week is Lent. Take yourself to Adoration, or walk among the trees. Sit in the sun, or lie in the dark. Turn off your computer, your television, your IPhone, your stereo. I promise to do the same. Let us make our Lenten offering to the Lord be our stillness, placing ourselves in His presence, awaiting the whisper.
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