After school today I was just a little bit distracted. I was driving home, caught up in my routine, but not fully there. I was asking all the usual questions. How was your day? What was the best thing that happened? Did you get your spelling test back yet? Who did you play with at recess. As my kids told me about their day though I wasn't really listening. Not because I didn't care but because I was thinking about all the items on my to-do list and over analyzing my day. We arrived at home and I asked a question for the second time. My boys looked up at me and said, "Mom don't you remember what I told you in the car?"
BUSTED. I was definitely caught. I was not being fully present. I was not listening. Lucky for me my kids are quite forgiving.
Today reminded me of how I do this with God. I forget to pray, forget to listen. Or worse I go through the motions and say the prayers and know all the answers to questions without thinking them through. When I do that I am not fully respecting God. I am not really giving my faith the attention it needs to grow.
Faith is supposed to require constant attention. Life throws all kinds of challenges at us. All kinds of situations. Sometimes that means we need something to center on. We need something to help us focus. There are many different ways to do this. But the best way is making a plan to a create time in our day for prayer so we can connect on a personal level with God.
Prayer is really about having a relationship. God is always knocking on our door, asking in to chat. God is always going to work through other people in our lives even. But if you are too busy to answer the door you miss out on an opportunity to hear a new perspective. To see something differently. Worse maybe is you know all the answers. You don't take the time to see what else you can learn. To understand things in a different way.
I like to consider myself a pretty open minded person. But really I think maybe I am not. When I don't pray and when I don't make myself fully available to God I am closing a door. I close my mind off to change. I am not building a relationship . Instead, my relationship with God suffers.
Being present in prayer does take dedication and time. It is an investment in my relationship with God. It is a hard thing to work on. It is something that some days I do better than others. Some days I fail miserably. If I am being honest I would say I fail almost always. Prayer is work. And yet, the more I work at it the better my relationship with God is. Even more of a surprise is the times I do succeed. These moments I like to think of as prayer doors.
Prayer doors are the moments when we make a real connection. I think it is these rare, good moments where we make a connection that make prayer worthwhile.
God loves us unconditionally. He doesn't want experts. Not prayer experts, not even expert Christians that can quote the bible front to back or tell others how to live. He wants us to have a real relationship with Him. He wants us to open that door.
God does accept the hot mess that is me. The hot mess of me who is forgetful, not present, selfish, overextends herself just a bit too much, sometimes yells, worries way too much, has many fears and doubts, wants to be control and have it her way, and can't seem to find the time of day to pray. That isn't even the full story on me. But he accepts me.
He accepts all of us as we are. He sees through us. Even when we shut the door he sees the real us. He accepts us even when we answer the same question over and over and miss what he is telling us a thousand times over. He doesn't just forgive us, he loves us exactly as we are, exactly where we are.
It is understanding His love that keeps me going and keeps me praying. His presence keeps me hopeful. It tells me that maybe in His presence I can be present too. I think I can open that door.