Wasting God’s Time
By Lisa Gates of Oklahoma City, OK, USA
Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. —Psalm 16:1–2, 7–9 NRSV
Praying has been a struggle lately. Scripture tells us to take our cares to God and share everything, yet whenever I start to do that, I feel as if I am a whiner. So many people have problems that are much worse—worse in ways I cannot imagine. They make my problems and concerns relatively silly and inconsequential—despite their significance to me.
This awareness has paralyzed my prayer life. Wouldn’t sharing my concerns with God suggest that I am unsympathetic or insensitive to all the horrible life circumstances around the world? A compassionate person would not “waste God’s time” with their petty problems. Intellectually, I know this is not true and that God is still my loving Creator who wants to be included in all the concerns of my life. However, in those private moments of prayer, I am continually apologizing for talking about my relatively unimportant stuff.
Last week while taking care of my two-month-old grandson, he taught me something that makes all the difference. He was crying, upset, and fussy. Compared to my financial concerns, impending surgeries, and family challenges, his two-month-old problems might have seemed inconsequential, but that never crossed my mind. His problems were real to him—as real as anyone’s problems.
As I cared for him, all I was thinking about was comforting him, consoling him, loving and protecting him. He had my sole attention. The relative insignificance of his problems never crossed my mind. To him, they were his whole world, which made them my whole world right then.
It occurred to me that, on an infinitely grander and loving scale, this is how God relates to us. When we pray, we have God’s sole attention, and God does not compare our problems to anyone else’s—does not judge us less worthy of holy compassion. My concern for my grandson is a tiny example and a mirror of God’s concern for us. God only wants to comfort, console, and love each one—individually and uniquely. I think awareness of this will affect the confidence with which I come to God in prayer.
Prayer for Peace
We come to you, God, dragging our mites and our monsters with us. We know that what concerns us concerns you as well. Help us mirror your love and hear the concerns of others.
Spiritual Practice: Tears of Compassion
Offer a silent prayer for the gift of God’s compassion. Cup your hands and ask God to make you aware of the suffering that causes the Earth and its inhabitants to groan and weep. Be open to faces or places, sounds or voices—connections with those who suffer. Imagine catching the tears of those you see and holding them in your hands. Listen for prayer images or words God may give you. Discern any active responses of ministry or healing you sense invited to complete for those who weep.
Today, God, I will not hesitate to “waste time” with you.