Last Sunday while talking about my children and wife I said publicly that “I’ve been praying less for them but spending more time with them and because of that my relationship has never been better.” Let me clarify that a bit…
I’m not suggesting that prayer is bad. On the contrary, it’s the fuel for our lives. As I have often said, “Little prayer – little power. Much prayer – much power.” What I meant was that for me sometimes I get so wrapped up in this whole ‘pastor’ thing that I try too much to act like one. Which means I try to be super-spiritual… do a whole bunch of things… pray and fast a lot... and stay real busy… I’ve noticed that when I do that I tend to spend less time with my family. On a subconscious level I guess I’m thinking that because I’m praying more that it will make up the difference. I’ve never once articulated it that way. But if I step back and objectively look at what is going on I realize that this is kinda how I end up operating. I don’t think that’s the healthiest way to live.
The scriptures do tell us to “pray without ceasing”. But of course that doesn’t mean we close our eyes and bow our heads all day long. That wouldn’t be very productive. Prayer is a dialogue… it’s talking and listening… Sometimes God talks to us through His Word, sometimes through nature, or through an impression from our culture or any number of ways. Often He chooses to use others to ‘speak’ to us. That’s my point here. If we aren’t giving attention to others, especially those that God has entrusted to us (for me, primarily my wife and children) then we may very well be missing God’s voice.
I’ve been having this ‘mountain top experience’ while reading a book by Brennan Manning called “the Importance of Being Foolish”. In this case I don’t necessarily mean ‘mountain top experience’ to be good. I mean it more as the sensation you get while hiking up a very tall mountain and the oxygen gets lower and lower. It’s difficult to breathe. If you slow down and take your time it’s beautiful but it’s not easy. That’s the kind of thing going on with me as I read this book. Manning is obviously on a much deeper plane than I am on. One of the things he talks about is “the agnosticism of inattention” which is “The lack of personal discipline to overcome media bombardment, sterile conversation and utilitarian relationships.” In this state our self-awareness grows dim and the presence of a loving God fades into the distance. When I act all ‘pastoral’ I don’t give proper attention to the people and ‘places’ that God has put in my life. (by ‘places’ I mean seasons of life, current situations I am going through, difficult times, or even good times, etc…) And then I don’t hear from God like I should because He uses these people and ‘places’ to speak to me. Then the presecence of a loving God begans to fade in the distance for me. When that happens my life gets disoriented quickly.
So, in the end I simply want to be a man who puts his trust in God and loves his family (and others that God has entrusted to me). As the Mercy Me song goes on their latest album… “Let me introduce myself to you. This is who I am. No more, no less. I am just a man who understands because of You I am blessed. No more, no less.”