I woke up around 4:30 this morning and rolled around restlessly in bed until 5. Dana warned me multiple times that if I kept moving about I was going to "get the boot". I finally got up and ate something; I never really had dinner last night so my stomach felt hollow. Then I headed back to bed. As I lay there I thought, "Why are you laying here trying to sleep when you know you're going to wake up in two hours more tired and you've been looking for time to pray? Maybe this is God's way of giving you time with Him."
So, I lay there and fought with myself for a few minutes and finally told myself I was being ridiculous and got up. Its funny how, when we haven't been regularly taking it, time alone with God can seem like such a chore. Honestly, it seems like most days anymore I forget how much I need God and how sweet He is. Father, how I need you! How I love you! How I want you! You are sweeter than any other thing, more present than the world around, but so often my eyes are squeezed so tightly shut that you seem a million miles away.
So, I got up and took a walk. Prayer is a funny thing, I find it has a lot more to do with creating space to be alone with God than with saying or doing anything specific. I just enjoyed the beautiful morning with God. After my walk I watered my garden and then made some coffee and sat out on our "porch" in a light rain. When it wasn't raining I read "A Praying Life" by Paul Miller, and when it started raining enough to wet the page I would lay the book down and take it as God's cue to just enjoy Him. So I sat for an hour moving between reading and "praying" and was reminded how important these times are.
So, here's some little nuggets from Paul Miller about prayer which stood out even more to me given the context of the morning.
"Besides asking and believing like a child, learning to pray involves learning to play again. How do little children play? If you ask a parent how long a one-year-old stays on task, they'll just smile. But if you must know, it varies anywhere from three seconds to three minutes. It isn't long, nor is it particularly organized. How can that teach us to pray? Think for a minute. How do we structure our adult conversations? We don't. Especially when talking with old friends, the conversation bounces from subject to subject. It has a fun, meandering, play-like quality. Why would our prayer time be any different? After all, God is a person."
"Jesus is, without question, the most dependent human being who ever lived...When Jesus tells us to believe, he isn't asking us to work up some spiritual energy. He is telling us to realize that, like him, we don't have the resources to do life. When you know that you (like Jesus) can't do life on your own, then prayer makes complete sense. But it goes even deeper than that. Jesus defines himself only in relationship with his heavenly Father. Adam and Eve began their quest for self-identity after the Fall. Only after they acted independently of God did they have a sense of a separate self. Because Jesus has no separate sense of self, he has no identity crisis, no angst. Consequently, he doesn't try to "find himself." He knows himself only in relationship with his Father. He can't conceive of himself outside that relationship...That's why contemplating the terror of the cross at Gethsemane was such agony for Jesus. He had never experienced a moment when he wasn't in communion with his Father. Jesus' anguish is our normal."
May you take time today to be alone with your Father. Ask Him for things, tell Him things, just be silent with Him. And may you find the intimacy that we all crave and desire deep within our souls. May you find rest, peace, hope, and joy. And overall, may you experience the love of God washing over your heart, soul, and mind, cleansing you of sin and filling you with His presence.