There is much talk about the opportunity at the Advent season, the time of waiting for Jesus birth, to mediate on Jesus and His presence through prayer. In truth, there is nothing simpler than prayer- it is God’s way of sharing His Immanuel truth that He is With Us. The promise in scripture found here is simply this: PRAY and I will be there with you. And yet, for most of us, prayer is not powerful, not transformative, and rarely meditative. This is perhaps one of the utter paradoxes of the Christian faith. Prayer is so simple and easy that we forget just how powerful it is supposed to be.
Sure we pray, we quickly bow our heads with steaming plates of food below us and we give God a few cursory “thank you’s”. As a father, this is often happening with one eye open to make sure the baby hasn’t dipped her hands into the mashed potatoes or one of the big kids isn’t sticking their tongues at each other. Or, we use prayer at the time of crisis. When danger arises, we quickly turn to God. Last night my son went missing for a moment outside the mall during the Snowflake Lane celebration at Bellevue Square. The snow was falling down, drummers danced around in costume, and the crowd was thick and all of a sudden there is a missing 4-year-old boy. My response? JESUS HELP ME FIND HIM. And we did. These prayers are easy.
But what about simply using prayer to mediate in silence upon Jesus as a way of growing our spirituality? Why not draw close to God in prayer the way we meet a friend for coffee or lunch? Soren Kierkegaard says, “we are so busy with other things that we don’t have time to wait patiently to hear the voice of the God of Jesus with us.”
Brennan Manning’s Lion and Lamb is reconnecting me with the utter inexhaustible truth about Jesus and both His mercy and power. He writes, “The most important thing that ever happens in prayer is letting ourselves be loved by God. ‘Be still and know that I am God’ says Psalm 46:10. Its like slipping into a tub of hot water and letting God’s love wash over us, enfold us. Prayer is like sunbathing. When you spend a lot of time in the sun, people notice it. They say, ‘you’ve been at the beach. You look like you’ve been out in the sun because you’ve got a tan. Prayer- or bathing in the Son of God’s love- makes you look different. The awareness of being loved rings a touch of lightness and a tint of brightness and sometimes, for no apparent reason, a smile plays at the corner of your mouth. Through prayer you not only know God’s love, you realize it, you are in conscious communion with it.”
During this busy holiday time, do you need some quiet time with the Lord? Do you need some ‘presence of God’ to bring peace and joy into your life? Perhaps schedule an hour “coffee date with God” this week or go for a walk and simply pray. And may this time with the Lord change you a bit, give you a spiritual “tan” even, so that you are a person transformed with Jesus’ love and grace this Christmas season.