I am still pondering the fine art of skimming, and I am thinking about prayer.
Dictionary.com defines the word skim as: to take up and remove floating matter from the surface…to move or glide lightly along…to read, study, consider, treat in a cursory or superficial manner.
Superficial. Cursory. So much in this life seems like a drive through. We can get our food and our money without stepping into a restaurant, barely stopping to exchange words and coins. With transponders mounted on our car windshields, we just slow down, never really stopping, to pay the tolls on our journeys. I find myself skimming hundreds of channels with the remote, watching seconds of shows in an effort to find something worthwhile. We mount tour buses to whiz us through the highlights of a vacation spot.
What I live while tethered to this world, these habits I form, they bleed over into what should remain sacred, set apart from this world. This is a dangerous truth.
Sometimes, my heart is so burdened with the task of taking my own requests and those of others before God’s throne, that I can forget to slow down and listen– to slow down and have a deep conversation with God about the details of that person or situation. I don’t want to neglect offering a person’s suffering (or joy) up to God, but the list is so long that sometimes I barely touch on a name and offer a “God, you know what’s going on, so please take this situation” tumbled phrase. Not that that is wrong, but what am I robbing from that conversation? I may be missing something with this habit of skimming.
Sometimes I am so involved in the tumult of words and thoughts that I generate, I don’t reign myself and and listen for the Spirit’s calm, but insistent, prompting in my heart as a response to the situation. I can miss the call to let Him work through me. Sometimes my prayers become less of a conversation and more of a Post-it note to God.
These habits? They bleed over to the whole church. Our words reveal our hearts, even when we don’t know them ourselves.
Have you heard (or spoken) this?
“Let’s have a quick prayer before we ____” “…a short prayer…”, stated like it’s a promise that our time speaking with God won’t be inconvenient to us. What is most offensive to me here is when we hurriedly slur the name of Jesus-the Holy One- in our conversation. We slur the sounds of His sweet name together and barely hear it. Barely whisper it. It’s as if He is an afterthought, instead of the reason we have this privilege of drawing near to our mighty God as a child, instead of an unholy mess.
” In Js-s’ name, amen.” Js-s. Here’s my list God. Please hear it. Please listen to our needs. Then we sign off as though it’s a 2 minute advertisement on the radio and we must state the name of the sponsor. Like we don’t have the time to proclaim Jesus as part of the conversation. Consonants only. Almost one syllable.
But Jesus’ name is sweet. And holy. And deserves proclaiming every consonant and vowel with humbled love and gratitude.
Oh that we would not skim His name in prayer!
God calls me to His praying servants and the psalms He wrote on their hearts. Even the shortest ones go deep. The prayers whispered or shouted loud are from deep roots sunk into a soul that knows what it is like to spend time with God, a soul that seeks God- that loves and trusts God. A soul that knows prayer is acknowledging God’s abiding Presence, and drinks it in.
Blessed is the man…his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. Psalm 1 There is delight and security in deliberately and slowly weaving God into the consciousness of our days and nights.
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. Psalm 4:3 There is confidence in this conversation, and though it may seem so to our human mind, it is never one sided.
Thou has put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. Psalm 4:7 There is deep, joyful emotion in relationship with God.
Meditating with God on His promises, His hope, His discipline, His love—this is not a drive-through conversation. It is one that takes time. It is one that explores the depths of the heart—full of pain, suffering, joy and hope- and takes the time to look for God in all. And to listen.
Today I resolve not to skim. I resolve to bring my heart into my conversations with the Lord God. To dwell on His name and realize how precious Jesus is to be a part of it. To take the time not to skim, but to dwell. I pray that those that lead us in prayer in worship, before meals, before activities, during coffee, before the Lord’s table…I pray they will lead us to take the time to dwell deeply in conversation with our God, and not reduce our corporate throne-sits to superficial punctuations in an order of worship.
Still striving to be a better sheep over here. Always seeking His face.