Slowing down …
I admit it, I like to be busy. I like to work, get things done. It doesn’t matter if it is preparing the next lesson for my class, or weeding in the garden, or going shopping for groceries, there is always plenty to fill my time. Sometimes I will let myself ‘waste time’ by playing bridge online, although I think it is healthy for me to exercise my brain playing this stimulating game. All this to say that I am not very good at being unproductive.
My prayer time used to be very ordered too. I would do my little bit of thanksgiving, maybe sing a quick song to worship the Lord, and then quickly get down to the important stuff: “Here are the people who need your help Lord.” And because I have always been good at doing the right thing, I persevered for many years. Occasionally I would see some answers to my prayers too. God is good. Some prayers seemed to go unanswered however, and that bothered me. After all, I was very good at praying, and surely God should now do his part and answer all my prayers. If I slowed down enough, I would have admitted that I felt a bit discouraged. But I tried hard not to slow down. I wanted to be faithful, to keep going, to keep praying.
As I began to encounter more of God’s presence when I prayed things began to change for me. Instead of giving thanks out of routine, just listing off various things I was grateful for, I began to give thanks out of a heart of gratitude. There is nothing wrong with the routine. In fact, I think it is healthy. Words from the head and words from the heart can be two different things though. Not only my thanksgiving changed, but also my worship. It is healthy to choose to worship no matter what our feelings are. Yet it is wonderful to enter into worship because my heart is full of love for the Lord.
My prayer time is now unbalanced the other way, a healthy way. I give thanks, I worship, and eventually I bring some requests to the Lord. And then this afternoon I did something that I cannot recall doing for years. I spent time just giving thanks and worshiping the Lord. No requests. I certainly had some things that I wanted to ask the Lord to intervene in, but I felt that the time was wrong for that. This felt like it was going to be hard for me. I hope that I don’t give thanks and worship so that it will be easier for the Lord to answer my prayers. I do know that it helps me to be positive and full of faith though, beginning with positive declarations about the Lord. And I am not going to stop entering his presence with thanksgiving and praise in case my motives are not one hundred percent pure. This afternoon was different though. I took half an hour to give thanks and worship the Lord, and nothing else.
I would love to be able to say that I had a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit, but I didn’t. I had a good time. It was difficult for me to worship and give thanks, and not ask for anything. I needed to do this, and I will do it again. And I almost don’t want to say, but the two things that were on my heart, that I wanted to ask the Lord to intervene in – they both got beautifully worked out. I was hesitant to add that because I do not want to encourage you to try this to get answers to your prayers. I want to encourage you to take time to give thanks and worship the Lord without any other agenda because it is the right thing to do. And I intend to take time to do it again, and again, and again, because, well because.