Breathing in God’s Presence

Lessons on the path to the praying life have been simple ones that left me changed in a powerful way. God stripped me down to my bare bones and took me to the very core of my heart in a way that left me empty and exposed as never before. In the bareness, I’ve found simplicity and felt like hitting my forehead with my open palm the way the folks on those vegetable juice commercials do:) I suppose I was thinking I would get to some higher level of praying, fall into lengthy, more complicated patterns of prayer, or master centering prayer or Lectio Divina, but the exact opposite occurred. Praying became second nature, and prayers became simple moments with God.

The point of all the lessons is that praying and living are one and the same. Praying is breathing God’s presence into my spirit as often as I breathe air into my lungs. I’ve found that praying is more necessary for living than breathing. Praying simple prayers constantly is walking in God’s kingdom as a barefoot child walking a familiar path. It is a sweet state of being that brings light in the darkness and cool water in the desert. Praying is holding God’s hand, riding on His shoulders, or resting in His arms as He shows me His world; it’s a wonderful way to travel. I don’t have to find the way or forge the path. His Son did that, and His Holy Spirit waits patiently for me to quit striving and worrying so I can delight in all God has to show me.

When prayer becomes an involuntary act of love as natural as breathing, the praying life begins. Like a newborn baby taking in her first breath, I was worn out and scared to death from the process of entering into a new way of praying. It becomes more relaxed and natural with each prayer, and now I can’t imagine praying any other way. It’s nice to know I don’t have to worry about how or when to pray anymore, and if I feel a stuffy heart coming on, I know the Holy Spirit will quickly open my prayer way if I call on Him for help. He usually prescribes a good dose of scripture because there is nothing better for prayer than God’s Word taken under the care of the Great Physician:)

My Prodigal Heart

My heart goes out to the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 because I can relate to his struggle to find what was waiting for him at home all along. I didn’t go searching for fame or fortune as he did; I simply wanted to be loved.

I feel for the older brother who is miserable in his servitude and has neither compassion nor joy for his lost brother who is now saved. He misses the opportunity to celebrate because of his own misery. Misery does indeed love company, and it keeps me from much joy. The older brother isn’t broken, and brokenness is part of the path to God. Without it, I cannot relate to the brokenness of the world. God brings His righteousness to me through His precious Son. Until I am broken, I cannot understand or appreciate the cost of that righteousness. When I depend upon my own righteousness to be enough, I am as disappointed as the older son in the story.

Repentance requires that I admit my sin and confess it to God, and that is never easy. It humbles and reminds me of the plan God put into place before He formed the world. Christ is dismissed when I think I can be good enough or work hard enough to make things right in my relationship with Him. The only way to repair my relationship with God is admit I’m broken and in need of His righteousness.

When I do that, I find myself in the position of the prodigal son, eating slop with the pigs rather than sitting at the table celebrating with God. Until I come to that place of desolation and hurt, I cannot begin to make my way back to His table. The older son believes he deserves to be honored for all he’s done, and that is a worse position than coming to the understanding that I deserve to eat with the pigs. Heartfelt confession changes my heart and mind in a way that allows me to live the praying life God desires.

Prayer begins with acknowledging God is Who He says He is. Who I am and who I am not then becomes painfully clear. The prodigal found his way home, and it was well worth the time and money it took for him to find it. The father was a good father who understood that well. God is the best Father and knows my wandering heart needed the lessons of the humbling path I chose. Coming to the place of confession is a crossroad where I must choose the direction I will take. The prodigal could have stayed and wallowed in self pity, convinced himself it was best to stay away from those he loved, or simply given up. Many do just that. It’s why Christ tells this powerful story. I can go back to those I love after being lost, but I must go with a clear understanding of who I am and Who God is. Then, God will celebrate with me. Not everyone will be happy when the lost find their way to God, especially if they take the path of the prodigal, but they can miss the celebration if they want to, it’s their choice just as it is mine to come home and celebrate with God.

Lessons in living the praying life are promising to be a greater challenge than those lessons in love! The open arms of the father in the story of the prodigal son are a glimpse of the glorious welcome God has in mind for me. It is a story of hope from the God of hope, and I needed it this week. I guess that’s why He put it in my path:)

A Little Levity Goes A Long Way:)

A sweet friend reminded me yesterday that β€œA little levity does the heart good.” I agree and am learning that a levity lightens the load when I go to God in prayer. God’s lesson this morning was about the power of a little laugh to lift my spirit and remind me that seriousness has its place. He appreciates humor and uses it to teach because He knows I retain much more information when humor is involved. I thank God for His sense of humor because it also brings levity just when I need it. God has an amazing sense of humor. If you don’t believe me, go look in the mirror:)

I often drag my worries to God in prayer rather than running to Him in delight. Wednesday mornings are special in that I get to sleep in. After fourteen hours with the girls on Tuesdays, I’m usually ready for sleep as soon as I get them settled in. Last night was no exception, and I awoke this morning after eleven hours of beautiful sleep. Playing with children is the best sleep aid ever!! I was sad as I looked at the clock thinking I missed the girls bounding in say good morning. I was sure they had been up for a at least an hour. I’d rather hear their squeals of delight than have the extra sleep, but I also appreciated mama’s desire to let me sleep in.

Just as I was having that thought, I heard the sound of incoming squeals and sat up in bed. I told Lillyann that I thought she had forgotten me, and she jumped in bed with me and gave me a big hug. Little Mylah had stopped off to get her baby doll and carriage, but she came in with a grin from ear to ear and a story to tell. Mama came in smiling behind them. Things were as good as they get, and I truly loved and savored each moment.

God used the girls to remind me that my prayers should be just like those little ones coming to my room each morning. We had decided early on that my bedroom would be a refuge and place of peace away from everything. I laugh as I type that now because that was what we all thought would be best as we learned to live together. What we have found is just the opposite, but having it be an off limits place earlier makes it all the more delightful for them and me now. The girls love to come in and look around. Mylah always goes straight to mama’s picture and carries it around with her. I find it in the strangest places and know mama would be tickled to see her fascination with her photo:)

God’s presence is an off limits place until Jesus opens the door and gives me access. What I find when I go into His presence is the awe the little girls have when they come into to Gigi’s room. What I am learning about His sweet presence is that He delights in my coming in as much as I delight in having Lillyann and Mylah come into my room. There is nothing I like better than having them come in and crawl into bed with me. I am learning to be like the girls and come into His presence as they come into mine with joy and complete abandon.

The girls come to me when they are hurting and tired, and they come pleading for something they cannot have. I love them all the same and hold them, rock them, or tell them no with love. My Father in heaven does the same. I cry at times when I don’t get my way, and I have even look at Him with tears and ask, β€œDon’t you love me?” We all know how that breaks our hearts, and it breaks His too. There are times when I’m angry with Him and argue thoughout an entire night or day. There was even a dark time when I turned from Him in shame and stayed away for decades.

Every morning cannot be filled with squeals, and much of my praying is for those who are hurting deeply. I am thankful for the times of levity that lift my spirit and the sweet squeals of delight that fill my heart with love. Whether I squeal, sob, sigh, or scream, God loves me all the same. That’s the beauty of God, moms, dads, dear friends, and Gigi’s; they love you no matter what, and that causes me to go to God as I go to them with joy in knowing it’s safe to say what’s on my heart. A little levity goes a long way in helping me not take myself too seriously, and it is changing the way I pray. I’m sure God breathes a sigh of relief when He hears my squeals of delight just as I do when those dear little girls converge on me every morning. What a sweet wake up call and beautiful lesson on the path to the praying life:)

It’s not perfection and piety God desires from me

Holiness and humility will bring me to my knee.

Levity is also there and will set my spirit free:)

Rehashing Regrets & Rehearsing Worries

I spend far too much of my time with God and dear friends rehashing and rehearsing instead of simply listening and loving. If I spend hours a day in prayer or conversations that are about me, I miss the opportunity to spend time with and love God and those near to me. The result is feeling worse when I finish than when I began. If I stay in those precious moments and hear God’s heart and the heart of those I hold dear, I leave the moment renewed.

When I let God fill me instead of trying to fill Him in, I end my time with Him feeling full and empty at the same time. It’s a beautiful feeling. I spent too much time yesterday rehashing and rehearsing and let worry keep me from enjoying the precious love before me. The problem with rehashing and rehearsing is both are a senseless waste of time. I miss the beauty of the moment and the love God has for me if I allow the past and the future to interrupt the present.

The praying life embraces God without smothering Him with past regrets and future worries. It does the same in everyday occurrences. Prayer, conversations, and time together become precious moments that connect my heart to His and those I love. God used a beautiful sunset to catch and hold my attention this evening. I felt His loving reassurance and forgot about those regrets and worries for a moment. It made me want more, and that is the sweet side effect of a loving presence.

I pray that I will enjoy the sweet moments of love God places in the path and see them as the beautiful gifts He intends for them to be. I’m eating Belgian Chocolate Gelato as the sun finishes setting and listening to the distant chatter of two delightful little girls playing in the tub. I’m practicing savoring, and as a dear friend reminded me yesterday, I like it:)