(October 13, 2007)

The ladies’ group I attend is examining prayer. We want to learn how to pray better. I know there’s no right or wrong way to pray – after all, it’s only talking to God. Being yourself with him is the most important thing. But I do have trouble, mostly staying focused. When I pray I so easily become distracted. My thoughts always turn elsewhere.

I wish I could be like Brother Lawrence, the monk who lived in the 1600’s and became famous for how he was able to practice the presence of God throughout the day. I’m studying a book about him, hoping that I, too, will learn how to do that-a bit, anyway.

One thing I came up with was that being continuously thankful to God and making a habit of that will draw us closer to God. I’ve often experienced feelings of closeness to God when I take the time to thank him for things. Mark Buchanan, in his book The Rest of God talks about this.

Buchanan refers to C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles and the wardrobe through which some children found themselves in a magical land:

“The best way I know to embody…Godward orientation is thankfulness. Thankfulness is a secret passageway into a room you can’t find any other way. It is the wardrobe into Narnia. It allows us to discover the rest of God–those dimensions of God’s world, God’s presence, God’s character that are hidden, always, from the thankless.”

Buchanan goes on to say that the first orientation to finding God’s rest “…is to practice, mostly through thankfulness, the presence of God until you are utterly convinced of his goodness and sovereignty, until he’s bigger, and you find your rest in him alone.”

The Bible says: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Through thanksgiving-in all circumstances-we can find peace, rest, joy.

We talked about all this at Living Room yesterday. Then we took time to pray together, each of us praying prayers of thanks. It was powerful. I came away from that meeting not feeling my usual tired joy. I felt a rested, peaceful joy.

Trouble is: now I just want to sit around and keep feeling that wonderful sense of peace. But I have work to do. Will I be able to keep praying as I work? That will be a challenge.