Prayer is, at root, simply paying attention to God – Flannery O’Connor
I was going to end with the above quote as an afterthought but decided it should be the in the forefront of what I want to talk about.
Prayer has not been the strongest area of my life. The way I was taught to pray never fully resonated with me. Prayer was something you said in words or waited on God in quiet to speak to you in scripture, more words. Not that there is anything wrong with that but that was all I knew about praying.
I have never been able to grasp the concept of public prayer whether it is me doing the praying or someone else. I know it has its benefits. But for me it never helped in my intimate personal relationship with God. Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying there is no place for public prayer or praying using words. I am sure you can remind me of dozens of scripture verses on the subject proving me wrong. That is not what I am trying to convey.
I learned to pray by audibly using words, me talking to God using the language I are familiar with and trying to listen for Gods voice using the means that I was taught and became most comfortable with. Reading. This method became stale over time and it was one that never fully completed my desire of communicating with God.
I have been experiencing a more complete prayer life by using all of the senses that God gave me. Becoming more aware or as Flannery O’Connor stated, “paying attention to God” and I might add by using all of my senses.
Imagine when someone passing you on the street smiles at you. How do you react. Do you smile back or do you put yourself in defensive mode by averting their eyes and ignore the smile. Or could it be God trying to communicate to you by implying, “go ahead, smile back, it will make you feel better and lift your spirits.”
How about the first time holding hands with that boy or girl you really like and getting that tingling feeling that electrifies your whole body and imagine God standing behind you thinking ” Ha, I knew this was a good match”.
The smell of your favorite dish cooking on the stove after a hard day at work, your heart filling with appreciation as you watch your partner scurrying around the kitchen preparing the meal. How did he know I was craving Spaghetti. You can almost see God standing at the stove stirring the pot of sauce and as he looks at you with a cheeky smile not wanting to take all the credit.
Your teenager seemingly going off the rails and your heart is heavy with fear as she runs out of the house slamming the door yelling you’re the worst father in the world. You can envision God following her out the door turning before leaving and giving you a nod as though to say “don’t worry, I got this”.
You laugh uncontrollably at a one liner by a stand up comic and God whispers in your ear, ” You know, I wrote that line for her”.
It would be unforgiving of me to not mention that first sip of coffee in the morning. Savouring the taste and toying with the idea that maybe there will also be coffee in heaven. This time I am reminded of the written word that teaches us to pray, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Just saying.
So your busy day is done. You are exhausted and it is one of those days when everything that could go wrong does go wrong. As you lie in bed staring at the ceiling with your hands behind your head feeling like a flawed human being. You sigh, hoping that tomorrow will be a better day. On cue, God speaks directly to your heart; “I do my best work with flawed.”
Let’s pay attention to God by using all our senses.