First Thessalonians (5:17) says it clearly: “Pray continually.” I assume that means 24-7, 365. So, if I understand that correctly, that means my life should be one continuous prayer. Praising. Confessing. Thanking. Asking. But I think there’s more. I think God wants me to be going about His business here on earth, too. So, if God expects me to pray without ceasing, He must have designed me to be doing and praying at the same time. Multi-tasking.
We’re good at multi-tasking these days. Texting while driving. Shopping while chatting. Pretending to listen while we’re thinking of the 100 things we really should be doing. Actually I don’t think any of those things are truly mulit-tasking. I think we ping between things to accomplish those. In and out of our circumstance. Text, then look to see if the traffic is moving, then back to text. Yes?
So I guess it’s natural to see prayer the same way. Pray, then do. Pray, then go. Pray, then speak. But if God actually wants us to pray continuously – without stopping – that means we must have been made for this. In fact, it may be the one thing we can truly multi-task.
Except we don’t. We treat it as we do all the things we multiply. Add it to the list and then check it off. Perhaps we’re a bit better and weave it in throughout. But that’s not continuous.
If, just for the sake of argument, I could pray AND do at the same time, what would that look like? The prayer form would have to keep changing along with whatever I was doing. If I was talking, prayer would be in the words. If I was listening, prayer would be in the listening. If I was moving, prayer would be in the motion. If I was writing, prayer would be in the recording.
Not, first this then that, but both together…at the same time. That would be life lived completely God’s way.
I pulled out my resistance band yesterday (it’s a stretchy band that I use for my own exercise and in fitness activities I do when I lead groups) and choreographed motions/exercises to the hymn ‘Spirit of the Living God.’ I pull it. It resists. I pull harder. It moves. The give and take of exert and respond in the rhythm and movement of words and song. The song ends…”Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me” and I bring the band, taut between my hands, down to rest. In that moment I can feel the residual effects of the resistance and the stretch I’ve just performed. I can literally feel the prayer I have just prayed, and I am stronger.
I have been strengthened in prayer. That is multi-tasking, and I think God is okay with it.
**Thank you to the folks at the Upper Room and the Global Board of Ministries who invited me to participate among them at SOULfeast 2013 this year. This inspiration is the fruit of that invitation.
and it was.
Have you ever wondered whether God creates from the beginning of a day or sort of makes it up as He goes along?
Whether all of its doings are put in place ahead of time, or does what I do in it knock it off kilter and cause God to right it again?
Or is it incomplete, waiting for us to fill it in with all the details?
In that case does our Majesty sit and cheer us on hoping we’ll do so and so because he’s planned such and such?
And in that case, do I ever surprise Him? Not catch Him off guard, exactly, but just choose what He hoped I’d do but figured I wouldn’t. Or the reverse, God help me, what He hoped I wouldn’t do but now that I have He’s reminded that there’s work to do with me yet?
I just can’t imagine He leaves anything to chance.
Yet, I look around and see things He couldn’t have possibly intended. Perhaps they are Friday things or next week’s agenda.
Wow, does that mean God has a calendar? Or is it just me who wakes up to Thursday and selfishly thinks its mine.
Well, God did give me this one. Wonder what He wants me to do with it.
God was present to this day before it began. Is present before it begins. This is what makes it Holy. Makes Him real in it. As I sit before it, He becomes real in it to me.
God said, let it be Thursday. And it is.
Have you seen the ducks at Dairy Queen?
See them? Go ahead. Look carefully. See the eye, the beak, the fluffy little body? You see it now, right? Had you seen it before?
I can’t go to Dairy Queen without seeing them now. Just for the record, I do love Dairy Queen. Don’t frequent the place, but there’s one along the bike trail and I am all about the rewards after a good day of riding.
And that store, right along the W&OD Trail was where my eyes were first opened – to the duck. Our family sat at a small table, just beneath the advertising poster on the wall of the store. Our pre-school-aged daughter Olivia pointed to the sign and said, “Look at the duckie!”
We looked, but no, we didn’t see it. She insisted, pointing and describing the details. She wasn’t making this up. Right there in the ice cream, she saw the duckie. And finally, looking as if through her eyes, we saw it too. All the little ice cream swirls completed the heads and beaks and big duckie eyes.
Children see with different eyes. Eyes that haven’t already decided “what something is.” They are open in a way adult eyes don’t seem to be. But even in adults the child-like eyes are still there. I know because, with her help, my eyes could see it as she did. It wasn’t hidden. It just wasn’t apparent until I had a bit of help.
I think the eyes of faith are this way. Sometimes we just need a bit of help seeing what’s already there. Like an Escher painting, we need a shift in perspective to see what we didn’t initially see. Once we see it, it’s obvious. But we may need someone sitting at our table to point it out to us.
This week I heard someone say the Trinity is like this: God above us, God beside us, God within us. I probably have heard that before but it never quite struck me this way. That Christ is the “God beside us” – opening the scriptures to us, imploring us, giving us strength, helping us see – opening our eyes to what’s obvious to Him but not yet to us.
I know the trinity is a sticking point between me and my Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters. The divinity of Christ, his membership with the three, the part He plays in connecting me with God the Father and God the Spirit, is not known to them. They don’t know “God beside them,” just above and within. The Lord and Father they know compels them to incredible obedience – just as that same Father does me. I just have the Son, beside me, who I too often take for granted, pointing the way.
I wonder how many times He has said, “Don’t you see?” And I haven’t. Or I haven’t heard Him. Or I just looked the other way. He is in the perspective-changing business, and He’s all about the opening of eyes. For some I imagine it isn’t till the end of things that His presence allows them to make the triune connection. Of course then any child could see it.