So how do you pray with perseverance? How do you keep praying when life is so distracting and overwhelming? How do you do it without becoming a monk or a nun? I don’t have time for that. How do you keep the prayer channel open, not put on hold until you find time again, even when you really do feel like a pseudo-liquid-solid changeable mess?
My Granny had some smarts. She wrote a book that is no longer in print, but if you can get your hands on a copy it’s well worth the read. Practical Praying, by Linette Martin. In this book, she talked about something she called “the prayer of smiles and glances”.
See, that’s the trick. It’s not that you have to keep your eyes shut, keep the long monologue going. I get bored with that. I have a rather irreverent hunch that God might find that kind of monologue boring, too. The idea of Glancing Prayer is pretty simple. Keep looking back at God. Keep the eyes of your soul open; don’t close them when you open your physical eyes. Look back at Jesus throughout the day, smile, and re-establish contact.
Prayer is a confusing thing. It’s conversation, right? We call it talking to God. Conversation implies a two way thing, which is not always how we treat prayer. I think prayer could be very simple but we make it complicated and confuse ourselves. See, if we know Who it is we are talking to, pausing to let Them speak isn’t so weird. It’s pretty normal. But I think we get wrapped up in the workings of our minds, and we blab on and on about the same stuff over and over.
“Because, Lord, we just, Lord, we just really want, Lord, to hear your voice. Lord, we just welcome you here, Lord, because we really wanna ask for your blessing, Lord, could you pour out your blessing, Lord, pour out your blessing on our children, Lord. Pour out from the heavens, Lord, just bless us, just love us, Lord…”
Okay, I’m being somewhat facetious. I know that. But you see my point. That paragraph could be very simply said, “Lord God, we want to hear your voice and receive your full blessing.” It’s not so emotionally strung out. It’s not something that a large crowd is as likely to get worked up over. But it’s clear. And clarity of thought, soundness of mind, is something that God gives his children by the indwelling of his Holy Self (2 Tim 1:7), and with practice. The gushy version might feel therapeutic for some, but if it seems confusing, complicated, and not how you approach any other interaction in life, then perhaps it’s time to try a different way.
My Granny Linette wrote (Practical Praying, Linette Martin, 1997, p. 16):
“We all fear the unknown, and who can be more unknown than a God we have never seen? Very short prayers make no demands and they are not intended to; they are the smiles of a relationship that is beginning to grow.
“Many people pray this way for years while thinking that it does not really count. It does count: even short prayer is real. It is enough to love God very simply, beginning where you are. Look at him, love him, and put the present state of your heart into the fewest possible words: “We love you because you first loved us.” Prayer can be much more than this, but it need never be less.”