When You Pray

March 13, 2018

Scripture: Matthew 6:6 CEB
“But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.”

It was a very short prayer service led from The Book of Common Prayer of The Episcopal Church. The pastor led the service and the people had their parts in prayer and response. When the short service ended, the pastor invited everyone into a time of silence and prayer. The people present entered into personal reflection and contemplation. It was quiet with some soft instrumental music playing in the background. I suspect that for some of us present that night it was the most quiet they had, or would have, all week. Some stayed for about 10 minutes and others for almost 30 minutes. It was a time to invite Jesus into their hearts and minds in the silence of the space. Time to focus on Jesus and invite the Holy Spirit to lead their thoughts and prayers. In one word, it was nice.

Throughout these 40 days of Lent I have been busier than ever. I have had so many things keeping me running here and there. At church there is never a shortage of things to be done. Worship services come with amazing regularity and there are many details that need to be worked out for every single Sunday. There are sermons to write, meetings to be held, decisions to be made, people to visit, and calls to be made. There are also devotions to be written (one every day for 40 days). To be clear it is a busy season in the life of the church. To be even more clear I wouldn’t want it any other way. Of course, you add to all this my family responsibilities; I am a husband and father, too. Can you relate? We are busy people with a lot of things to do and a lot of people to see and a lot of places to go. It can get tiring. I would be willing to guess that you don’t have a lot of quiet time in your life. If you do, I am going to also guess that you are creating the time intentionally.

Jesus said, “But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place.” In other words, find a quiet place (your quiet place) and get away to pray. I know we have already talked about this earlier in Lent. There is something miraculous about silence. We need a little silence every day. Jesus is telling us that we cannot spend quality time with God if we are constantly distracted. We have mind numbing sound around us most of the day. Just a few of the sound makers in our life are television, radio, computers, phones, music, talking, traffic, and people. If you have kept all of these off for a full day this week, let’s face it …you’re weird! Or at least different or unusual. I honestly think we will have rehabilitation centers for phone and social media addicts in the near future. We just don’t do quite well.

Will you commit to carving out some time today for silence? A few minutes to completely disconnect from the noise of the world and connect with God in prayer. Try not turning the radio on in your car on the drive to work. Commit to not turning the television on today. Unless it’s necessary for work, stay off the computer today. If you will take some time today to be quiet and pray to God in that quiet/secret place, you will experience God anew. In your prayer say only what is necessary to show God how much you love God. Spend the rest of the time in silence and listen. It will be uncomfortable if you are not used to this practice. Press through the discomfort and allow God to be present. It may be a good idea to take a journal with you and write down what you hear and think. I believe this will be a blessing to you. When you pray, take time to be silently present with God.

Prayer: Holy God, I long to be in your presence today. Help me to make time to be quiet before you. Send your Holy Spirit to speak to me in that time. Give me the discernment and clarity to listen to you alone. Give me the strength and courage to do whatever you say. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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