This posting was not “supposed” to be the next Life with Grace. (In my plan anyway, but God in His wisdom showed me another important lesson I needed to remember.) It still amazes me how God uses children to get the simplest points across that we “adults,” think we have outgrown or simply don’t have “time” for. I guess Robert Fulgum was right- All I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten. Anyway, I just want to let you know that I’ve had this other idea in my head for over a month, but I have been in one of those worldly states lately. You know the one…. It’s labeled: “VERY busy.”
What typically happens to you when you get busy? You put the milk in the pantry and the cereal in the fridge, comb your teeth and floss you hair, walk the baby and diaper the dog? For me, my “to do list” becomes overwhelming, and I get caught in the motion of “chewing” and “doing.” I chew on the list of things to do, sometimes chew on the people around me, chew on goodies to take the stress away; all the while I am in the inertia of perpetual doing— doing this, that, and the other.
I was in a real state the other day. It took me the entire day to create a lesson on Aristotle for my Philosophy class. It’s been 20 years since Aristotle and I have been acquainted, so this along with my over-achiever personality kept my nose to the grind. (No wonder it had started to hurt.) That Grace accepted my “neglect” of time and blissfully self-entertained until the dinner hour, was truly a gift from God and nothing short of a miracle. When the dinner hour arrived I plopped her in front of her plate, inhaled my own dinner, and plopped myself right back in front of the computer. (Editor’s Note: Being the type-A person that I am, I want to reassure you that this is not the typical state of things in our home. Most of the time, 99% in fact, meals are for family with NO distractions. However, this day was all about exercising my talents as the Multi-Tasking Queen of Loudoun County.)
As I sat in front of the computer, I moved to pick up a pen, and Gracie quickly swiped it away.
“Give it back, please.” I said sternly. I had no time for shenanigans. I was on a mission. Gracie gave me a sly smile and held the pen out of my reach to play “keep-away.”
“Gracie… please give me back the pen.” I demanded, as I held out my hand.
She continued to smile at me as she gently placed her hand in mine. In a small sweet voice that was measured with maturity she said: “Let’s pray first, and then I will give it back to you, ok?”
In my split second “parenting head” I thought: There are two choices here… take this as a moment of defiance, or as a moment of opportunity. I listened to God’s leading and took the opportunity. When your three-year-old is reminding you to slow down and grab back hold of one of the most fundamental spiritual disciplines— it might just be a good idea to do it! So I smiled at her, squeezed her little hand and said; “Ok. You pray.”
I bowed my head and closed my eyes. I can’t remember everything she said in her little prayer of “Thanks to the Lord,” but what she said was not as important as what it gave me in that moment. In that moment I was delivered from all the angst of my “chewing” and “doing.” In that moment came the Lord’s placid serenity reminding me not to get lost in the “doing,” but to remember Him first, and His many blessings on my life. Moreover, as the angst lifted, a renewed power took its place, reminding me where real strength and endurance come from.
Why do we so often forget to tap into that unending well of power that is available to us 24-7? What can I do to not let the “busyness” of this world overtake me again? 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reads:
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Prayer and thanksgiving— this is the place that we should be continuously. Just as we exercise our brain and body, we need to exercise the action of joyfully praying and giving thanks. It is not something that just happens in a one-time prayer. It is an active determined action on our part to continually commune with our Father, the one who loves us like no other.
When I later recaptured that moment with Grace, I thought, “Thank you, Lord. What a blessing, Lord, that you would admonish me in such a gentle way.” Then I got honest with myself. In MY “busyness”, MY plan for MY day I was forgetting to connect with My God… My Father who lovingly waits for me as I go hither and yon… My Father who loves me in the midst of my “chewing and doing…” My Father who creatively employs my precious daughter to get my attention.
Sadly, I must admit that this wasn’t the first time this week that I had not put this important wisdom into practice. I had met with my friend Jami, who is helping me put together a seminar, and as we started the meeting I said: “OK! What do we need to do first?” Her answer: “PRAY!” …. Oh, yeah! DUH!
Jim Supp, pastor at Mclean Bible Church in Loudoun just called his congregation to 50 days of prayer and praise to the Lord. As the church begins a major undertaking, we need to first: “PRAY!” …. Oh, yeah! DUH!
And, Hold on….. I’m pretty sure that I have a vanity plate on my car that says “TLKTOGD” (Get it? Talk to God? Obviously, I need to start reading my own license plate more!) In other words: “PRAY!” …. OH, Yeah! DUH!
In every step of our day we can find power. Prayer has power! Prayer moves things. Prayer moves us. Father Tom Simmons of St Peter’s in Purcellville once said to me; “When you pray, you gotta move… you gotta go places!” Have you ever been in prayer like that? Or been in the presence of someone who’s prayers you can feel really moving things? Moving you?
Everything shifts when we sit in an attitude of prayer. My whole demeanor and focus shifted from just dipping my heart into that brief moment of prayer with Gracie. My whole heart moved to a new place. Think about this tough example of how prayer moves us: When we are in conflict with someone “they” say: “Pray for the person who’s wronged you.” Might seem cliché, but is that because it is cliché, or because it is our natural tendency to rebel against anything charitable for the one who’s sinned against us? Is it cliché, or is it that something deeper is going on in prayer, and we know if we engage in earnest prayer for that person it WILL move us to a new place? (And honestly, we’d rather hold a grudge while pretending like we’re not begrudging, thank-you-very-much!) But when we do pray, in ANY given situation, things do move. We are moved.
One Pastor I know stated: “Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes us.” If you want an authentic “Extreme Make-over”—- PRAY!
My mentor, Bill Geiger, often says: “God takes the time to talk to people who take the time to talk to Him.” If you want to hear from God— PRAY!
Pastor Lon Solomon of Mclean Bible Church says: “Pray for everything— from overcoming impossible obstacles to finding impossible parking spaces!” If you want to see the supernatural power of God at work in your life—- PRAY!
These aren’t just little nut-shells of wisdom about prayer, for it is the Apostle Paul himself who tells us:
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying… (Ephesians 6:18)
This is the meat of Biblical truth about connecting with God and being infused with His power.
No matter what moment you are in, from impossible circumstances to impossible people, from being caught in the busyness of “chewing” and “doing” to the everyday burdens of living in a broken world, there is an unending source of power to shift things— and it is always at your disposal. Grab hold of God… and “Let’s pray first, ok?”