“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” Acts 17:27
Have you ever prepared yourself to spend time with God and found that within minutes of settling down your mind turned to other things? You have your favourite chair, a Bible, high-lighter, a special pen and notebook, and you even have a cup of something hot to sip on. You feel you’ve done all you thought necessary to prepare yourself for some alone time with God, then you begin and your mind wanders. You start to think about things you have to do, or you become restless as your comfy chair is no longer comfortable. This confuses and possibly frustrates you. You know it is important to be with God, but you can’t seem to do it. During small group you’ve heard friends share how God has affected their lives or how they’ve heard from Him and you say to yourself, “I don’t know if God ever talked with me like He does with them”, or, “if He does, I don’t know if I hear Him”. We compare ourselves to others who seem to be having an amazing life of prayer and might even begin to wonder if we are praying the right way. We can feel very lonely when we sense we are missing out on this prayer bond with God.
Slowing down and remaining focused is difficult for many yet, people can do it. Who has, or who knows someone who has binge-watched something on Netflix? Even after watching a series for several hours, the choice to hit CONTINUE when asked, “do you still want to continue watching a certain series” is easy. So why do people find prayer hard? Maybe we need to focus less on doing prayer correctly? Maybe some of us need to exam the self-imposed rules we have established to pray and get rid of some. Rules such as: must get up at 5:00 AM; always have a bible and paper handy or always ensure isolation from others. Be assured, God does not speak to us because of the routines we follow to set aside quiet time (Luke 11: 37-52). He listens and connects when we are receptive to Him. He’d prefer we connect with Him more often than we do and in the places we frequent every day such as our workplaces, classrooms, grocery stores, or even our homes. He is everywhere showing off His wonder and glory and He wants us to recognize Him and praise Him and bring Him to the attention of others. He wants us seeking Him during our waking hours and to respond when we recognize His presence. He loves it when we acknowledge Him and offer prayers of gratitude throughout the day. He knows that when we learn to walk with Him daily it will also teach us to sit with Him.
Don’t misunderstand this message. God loves the alone time with us but if it’s a struggle, we must rethink why and how we are doing it. It is important to set aside intentional time to be with God and for many, this takes determined practice to get into this habit. It’s important to engage in other spiritual practices and use aides or electronic tools designed to help us connect with God. We shouldn’t abandon the routines we have set in place to connect with God, but if we recognize they are ineffective, we should rethink how we seek to connect with God. We should try to connect more than just once a day or once a week. God is omnipresent (everywhere) and available to us 24/7 and if we can recognize and acknowledge this truth we can connect with Him in ways we had not imagined.
Our preference would be for God to show Himself every time we prayed so we could see Him, hear Him, and understand what He is telling us. It would make praying easier. However, that is not exactly how it works. Paul told us, about God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature would be clearly seen, understood, so that people would be without excuse.” Romans 1:20 NIV. He is near us, but many are not in the habit of looking for Him throughout the day. Seek Him everywhere you go, acknowledge what He does, and remember what you have seen. Start doing this and you will find your time with God changing and you will even be able to get back to spending that focused alone time with Him.
(Idea for message borrowed from Pastor Koch of Ransom Church South Dakota)