Sometimes our prayers seem to bounce off the ceilings and go nowhere. Sometimes they feel so rote and formulaic that even we have little interest in them. Why would God be interested? And then, occasionally, we realize that we’re doing all the talking. No wonder it feels so one-way.
Lent opens the door for us to experience God (and prayer) differently. On the one hand, we might join the Psalmist in appealing to God. “Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.” (Psalm 4:1) On the other hand, Lent also challenges us to “hear God.”
Who’s doing the listening?
If prayer is simply “attentiveness to God”—my preferred definition—then our capacity to be still and to listen is significant. Perhaps we could punctuate our times of prayer today more with stillness than speech.
Silence and stillness feel strange to those of us who have been trained to talk. Is it really prayer if the air is empty? Shouldn’t we be “saying something”? After all, there’s so much to say; so many people to mention; so many needs to list; so many ….
Is the Lord unaware? Has He been so distracted that He lost track of our lives and the lives of others?
It’s more likely that we’re unaware; unaware of Him and the gentle, unstoppable, persistent movement of His Spirit in us, through us, and around us.
Today, consider turning your prayer into short periods of quiet attentiveness. Be still. Listen. Hear.
Father, I wait on You—without an agenda. I listen for You—without taking over. Help me be still and increasingly attentive to You. Amen.