It’s an itch I can’t scratch.
It feels like I’m a puppet and someone up above me is teasing my strings.
It’s like having the word right on the tip of my tongue.
It’s like I’m a piece of metal and there are magnets in the walls, the floors, the ceilings, pulling me all over the place and letting me rest nowhere.
It’s distraction. A twitch, a tick, a fidget that makes me go elsewhere, everywhere, nowhere.
I hear Him call me to prayer. I am doing dishes, I am folding laundry, I am watching the morning news, I am doing absolutely nothing superior to the call of God to pray. This thought of prayer was not my bright idea but something God placed within me. I know this is more than just another thing to cross off of my to-do list each day. It is a privilege beyond privilege that God invites me into His presence to gain from Him.
So I finish this last dish. And then grab a cup of coffee. Then I remember I have to throw dinner in the crock-pot for tonight. My cell phone rings. God calls, softly. I answer the phone. I am drawn away.
Sometimes I am just sitting. There is nothing. The day has passed smoothly. My home is quiet. There is only me and my own conversations with myself. He invites me. I choose my own company. (WHY?!)
I enjoy reading theology. I read the Bible. I read books about prayer. I read about other people’s prayer lives. I write this article about prayer. I believe in prayer. I think about praying. I beat myself repeatedly with guilt for not praying enough. I spend all this time flopping around like a fish out of water. And God calls – Come. Take.
This awareness of the call to pray is in itself an answer to my prayers, please Jesus help me hear your voice, know your will, and listen to you! Blessing beyond blessing! So he answers my prayers by increasing my awareness of His presence, and in deep gratitude I totally lack the wherewithal to respond accordingly.
What a gracious God we serve! Can I say it again? The God of universe, who made the stars and the sun and the earth, who knows exactly how many hairs I have on my head, who tends to the flowers and the birds and the children and all the crazy moms out there like me, is inviting me to be with Him, and is inviting me to be fed on a meal which sustains beyond any substance I can find anywhere else on the planet. But here I am, doing something else, and although I may not say it directly, the truth is that what I really am saying is – hold on God, I have this important real life stuff to do over here before I can spend time with You .
Imagine treating your earthly best friend this way. Imagine looking that person in the eye and saying, “I know you want to spend time with me. I know the best thing in the world for me is to spend time with you. I drink deeply and gain much from our time together. But I completely lack the willingness and discipline to do so. I say that I love you and that you are the best friend I could ever know, but I simply cannot make myself spend time with you. It’s very strange really but it’s the way I am. Do you think you can help me want to hang out with you more?”
All I have to do is cooperate, really. And even that I can’t do without Him first making it possible. This leaves me, once again, begging before God. I’m left only able to take my inability to pray to Him in prayer, and ask for help. He lets me be the worst friend anyone could ever imagine. He hears me speak claims of love while ignoring his sweet voice inviting me to spend time with him, like trying to walk past a big bush of lilacs in the spring and pretend they don’t smell just wonderful and don’t you want to linger a little while? His Spirit convicts me of these things, and He softly calls, again and again.
The devil is tricky you see. It’s just like doing a lot of things that revolve around Jesus’ Church is not the same thing as knowing and seeking Jesus himself. JUST Jesus. Thinking about prayer and having good intentions to pray in some imagined future perfect time and place is not the same thing as praying and spending time in relationship with God. The devil lets me get oh-so-close to what I really need, but keeps me JUST outside of it. What a perfect place to be to keep me a lukewarm, sometimes burnt-out, largely ineffective disciple of Jesus Christ.
I want to know God. A lot of things satisfy my intellect, but I want to know God. I believe that the Bible says we were made specifically for the purpose of being in relationship with Him, and that the Cross of Jesus Christ has made it so that even in all our sin and brokenness, we can still seek out and find that purpose. And the more I seek, the more I find, and the more I find, the more I want to keep coming back for more. And God works all of that in me, even when I bounce around like a ping-pong ball, even when I lack the character to just STOP and cooperate. He WANTS to give me good things, despite myself. It’s not a law or rule issue, or a 15-minutes twice a day regimen issue. No, it’s a heart issue. What an awesome God!
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be open. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11
So my prayer this week is that God helps me to pray. Oh gift beyond gift that such a great God would ever invite one as me to pray, to eat and drink, to be healed and made whole! That such a great God would have such patience with my disregard and distraction, that such a great God would remain and be the wall which I push against until I’m tired enough to turn around and look at You! Where would I be if it all depended on me alone? I have no character or integrity to speak of apart from You. Lord give me the willingness to drop anything and everything as I become more aware of that still, small voice inviting me to you.