A KEY TO CONTINUAL PRAYER
A few days ago I had an interesting experience. It had been a normal day at home and I was full-speed, taking care of the house and our girls. I remember feeling rather busy although when I think about it now, I’m quite sure I wasn’t occupied with anything very important. Anyway, in the middle of my busy state, I suddenly missed something. Or should I say Someone. In fact, I realised I didn’t sense God’s presence with me. Rather ironically, perhaps, one of my favourites among God’s names is Immanuel, God with us. Yet here I was, not feeling connected with the One I knew was with me. Stopped in my tracks, I asked God why I couldn’t feel Him. I hadn’t hurt anyone, lost my temper or even complained about anything. So why was it that I wasn’t enjoying His presence? It didn’t take longer than an eyewink for me to hear the answer:
“If you’re running faster than the wind, you can’t feel the Breeze”.
Indeed. I had been running fast, so caught up in life that I couldn’t feel God. We all know that God wants to be involved in our lives. Even the account of the garden of Eden reveals that He is the God who walked with man. We also know that the very reason Jesus left the earth was that He could send the Holy Spirit to be with each one of us forever. But how often do we simply content ourselves with knowing this in our heads? We may acknowledge His presence intellectually, but miss out on His presence experientially.
I believe God’s intention for us is to sense His presence wherever we are and whatever we do. Moses recognised the importance of walking in God’s presence. This is why he pleaded with God in the following way:
“If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Exodus 33:15
I am coming to see that busyness can endanger our relationship with God. Of course, we can’t always determine the pace of our lives. There are situations that cause us to have to do things quicker than we would enjoy. Circumstances, relationships or simple accidents influence our days perhaps more than we would desire. However, God made us to be His worshippers in the middle of life. Thus if our hearts are preoccupied with anything apart from Him, our relationship with God will be disturbed. In seeking to live life without a busy attitude, I find the wise reflection of Brother Lawrence very helpful:
“We must do all that we do with thoughtfulness and consideration, without impetuosity or haste, both of which show an undisciplined spirit; we must work quietly, placidly and lovingly before God, and pray to Him to approve our toil, and by this continual attention to God we shall break the Demon’s head, and make his weapons fall from his hands.” – Brother Lawrence
In giving God our heart’s attention continually, we can learn to abide in Him even in the middle of activity. Our minds can learn to focus on God and stay at rest.
Could this be what Paul had in mind when he prompted us to “pray continually”? A life in the presence of God? A kind of wifi with Jesus? I believe this could be so. As a former religion teacher of mine claimed, “praying continually” is referring more to a constant attitude of prayer than to an action. We can develop an online-attitude towards God. And He will honour us with a sense of His presence.
Personally, I wish I could fast forward to some more spiritual maturity in this area. I know without a doubt that it will improve my quality of life! Yet I know that there are some lessons that take time to learn. It’s often slow cooking with God – but as my husband says, it’s the best kind of cooking!