(May 11, 2008)

Every once in a while I’ve referred to Philip Yancey’s Prayer: Does it Make a Difference?, a book that I’ve gradually been working my way through. I’ve only read small amounts at a time, not because it’s boring, but because I want to chew on every little bit, to savour every bite. Such a good book!

I’ve often thought of myself as a really poor pray-er. When I try to pray my attention wanders and, before I know it, I’m thinking of the things I need to do or a whole mess of other stuff that tends to come into my head to distract me. I’m not very good at remembering to pray for all the people I should pray for either, too disorganized to keep a list, or to refer to it when I have managed to put one together. How I wish I could do better!

But Yancey’s book has offered me some comfort, helping me realize that maybe I’m praying a lot more than I think. He says that just keeping company with God during quiet times could be considered prayer, even if you’re not using words. Prayer can be listening to God. We don’t always have to be the ones doing the talking (in fact, we probably shouldn’t be). Maybe those early morning quiet times I spend with my coffee, journaling, and letting my mind wander, is time with God. I know that’s when many of my ideas come to me, ideas that I believe are put there by God. In much of my journaling I talk with God as well – a little “thank you, God” or “please help me with…”

Cassian said, “We pray best when we are no longer aware of praying.” Maybe we pray a lot more than we think – unawares.

Yancey quotes someone named Marcia: “If someone asks me for help in prayer, I tell them to find what they most enjoy and do that, only do it for the glory of God….For me, it’s painting. Start with what really energizes you and touches your heart: flowers, music, hiking, birds, gardening, whatever. Ask God to remind you, as you do it, that you’re doing it for him….Spending time with God is what’s important. We spend the time anyway. Why not recognize that we spend it with God, and then act like it?”

Prayer is a lot more than a shopping list of things we want God to do for us. Would we spend time with our parents just asking them for a bunch of stuff? Our parents simply want us with them, telling them about our lives and how we feel about things, sharing our love with them. God is with us all the time. We just need to remember that and live with the awareness of His love constantly within us and surrounding us. And how much more at peace and joyful we would be if we could do that!

We simply need to live in company with God.