March 15 Devotional
I grew up in the Catholic faith. I spent 8 years attending Catholic school where we prayed every day, multiple times a day. We started the day with prayer, we prayed before lunch, we prayed before and after religion class. In the third grade, we learned to pray the rosary. That meant memorizing and reciting the Apostles Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary and Glory Be to the Father. Catholics believe praying the rosary is a time to be restful and contemplative. The repetition of the prayers is meant to silence everything around us so we can listen for God. I understand that now, as an adult. The third grade me didn't have that understanding as I raced through 10 Hail Marys in a row at lightening speed.
Over the years, my prayers have gotten a lot less structured and take even less time. I don't say a lot when I pray. It's short and to the point. I believe God knows what I'm talking about, what I'm asking for, and what I'm grateful for, without going into all the details. And with billions and billions of people around the world praying every single day, for, at times, far greater needs than I have, I don't feel I should take too much of God's time.
Except, am I worried about taking too much of God's time, or too much of my own?
This Lenten season, I've started to think about that more as I've taken prayer requests off the prayer wall. When I'm at church praying for those in need every Sunday, I do quiet my heart, my mind, and really speak to God. However, outside of church, my quick prayers said in odd moments during the day, seem like, (and this may be a bad analogy, but bear with me) I'm just sending off a quick text message to God--"Hi God! Thank you for this great day!" "Dear God, Jane needs comfort right now." or "Can you please be with John as he goes through this tough time."
I knew I needed to do better. The first request I selected from the prayer wall asked to me to pray for someone who needed to know God's presence in his life. So I began to pray, "Dear God, please be with --." Normally, I may have stopped there, thinking God would know what I'm praying about, but, this time, I kept going, "Please let him learn and know of your presence. Help him to see all the wonderful ways you are with us each day. I don't know his struggles, but I know You do, and I know You're with him always. Please give him peace."
As I took more time, and prayed more purposefully, I began to feel a change. As I prayed for this person to feel God's presence, I too felt God's presence more. As I prayed for peace, there is a peacefulness in me. I imagine God, at my realization, saying exasperatedly, "That's the POINT!" I know I didn't see the point as a third grader racing through all those prayers, bead by bead. And I've continued to miss the point as an adult, as I've carved out less and less time for prayer and reflection. Lent is normally a time for giving something up. If I frame it that way, I'm done text messaging God everyday. Done with those quick, one-sided conversations. Saying a brief prayer crammed into a busy day, isn't going to foster a deeper relationship with God. Taking the time to really talk to God, to listen, to quiet my heart and mind, will. I've forgotten that over the years. God always has a way of reminding me. I just need to take the time to listen.