Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Being Useless and Silent in the Presence of God Belongs to the Core of All Prayer

I prayed here - 10/10/15 (Lake Michigan shoreline, Muskegon)

My deeper prayer odyssey began in 1982 when I took my Bible, a clean journal, and A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Others Servants to a field north of Lansing, Michigan, found a rusty old tractor, mounted it, and sat for four hours. And prayed. On that day God met me with such gentle force that I have never looked back. I became a praying person.

I love spending time with God, speaking and listening to Him. I bloom while praying. Henri Nouwen writes:

"We simply need quiet time in the presence of God. Although we want to make all our time, time for God, we will never succeed if we do not reserve a minute, an hour, a morning, a day, a week, a month, or whatever period of time for God and God alone." (Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life, 94)

The day I prayed on the abandoned tractor was a Tuesday. Today, 33 years later, is Tuesday. This is my day with God; this is God's day with me. I believe God looks forward to this time with me. I am his child, and God loves spending time with his kids. A morning with God, today.

I will never forget how I began that tractor-time thinking, "This feels like doing nothing, a waste of time." Nouwen writes:

"[Taking praying time with God] asks for much discipline and risk taking because we always seem to have something more urgent to do and "just sitting there" and "doing nothing" often disturbs us more than it helps. But there is no way around this. Being useless and silent in the presence of God belongs to the core of all prayer. In the beginning we often hear our own unruly inner noises more loudly than God's voice. This is at times very hard to tolerate." (Ib.)

I tolerated it. I hung in there. I stayed. For five hours. I prayed "Search me, O God." And He did. I knew in my mind and experienced in the depths of my being that God was with me, living in me, His holy presence. Now I couldn't leave. I was spirit-glued to the tractor seat. I opened my journal and wrote, and wrote, and wrote...  as best I could to capture what God was saying and doing to me. 

"But slowly, very slowly, we discover that the silent time makes us quiet and deepens our awareness of ourselves and God. Then, very soon, we start missing these moments when we are deprived of them, and before we are fully aware of it an inner momentum has developed that draws us more and more into silence and closer to that still point where God speaks to us." (Ib.)

Do I miss these moments with God? Yes and no. Yes, when I feel overwhelmed by the incessant struggles of this crazy world. No, because I have never stopped meeting with God. This is my day, my time, with Him. This is my week and my month and my year with Him. 

This is my life, with God.