After a stressful day at work, it felt good to get home, put on my slippers, and
lay down in my recliner with a book. The one I had in my hand this day was
entitled: "How to Pray in Peace." I couldn't wait to start reading it. I wanted
my heart to fill with the peace that can only come from growing closer to God,
my model for everything.
I hadn't even finished the first paragraph when the phone rang.
"Guys!" I called. "Could you please answer the phone?"
No response. I had no idea where my sons were; for all I knew they had wandered out to "Mossedonia", their imaginative world in the woods at the back of our property. But wherever they were, they were well out of range of my feeble voice, and with a forced sigh, I put down my book and got up.
"Hello?" Was my cautious greeting.
"Good afternoon sir. Do you have a moment?"
"Not really…," I mumbled, glancing longingly at my book.
"Good! Did you know that credit card theft is on the rampage? I have the solution to your problem …"
"Uhh . . . I'm not interested, thank you!" And I hung up the phone over the sputtered: "But, but . . ." From the other end of the line.
I sat back down on my recliner, a bit annoyed by the distraction, but before long I had begun my second paragraph. That's when I suddenly had the feeling someone was watching me. I tried to ignore it, but after rereading the same sentence three times without comprehending the meaning, I again laid down my book.
Sure enough, I was being watched. By my Golden Retriever! She was sitting as close to me as she could, just staring up with those soft brown eyes of hers.
As soon as she knew she had my attention, she scampered for the back door.
Her silent message was clear and I sighed as I got up. She obviously needed to use the "doggie" bathroom, better known as the back yard!
"Go on girl," I said. "And please hurry!"
Ten minutes later I was back in my recliner. I decided to rock in it a bit, instead of putting my feet up. Maybe that would help me relax after all of these distractions!
It did. And I had just begun my third paragraph when I heard my two boys. They were screaming at each other . . .
I laid down my book again and rose to face the tempest. The problem itself seemed pretty benign and was quickly rectified. I sat down again, but as soon as I was reaching for my book, someone knocked at my door.
"Papa, it is for you!" Called one of my boys.
Back up again, I faced the neighbor's two teenaged girls.
"Could we have some sand from your sandbox please? It's for an experiment."
Grrrrrrrrrr…. But at least they had asked nicely!
"Go ahead," I said. But it took all of my inner reserves of strength to remain calm as I closed the door. "I wonder what's next?" I muttered. "Will I ever finish the first page?"
I decided that maybe it was my choice of chairs, so I switched to the couch. Two of our pet birds played on the rope overhead, but I ignored them, and I was just finishing up paragraph three when it happened: A huge blob of bird poop, flying down from above and landing with a "splat"!-right on the next word I was about to read!
"Guys," I called. "Who left the birds out unsupervised?"
Although many similar distractions were forth coming, I was determined, and eventually did finish my book. And I was blessed by it as well!
Often in prayer we are faced with similar problems. Besides the normal distractions, the disruptions from the brain are even more terrifying: "Remember those overdue bills?" Or "You haven't finished your "to do " list yet!" These are soon joined by memories of all those problems at work, by wondering if you forgot to feed the fish, and by the most annoying thought of all: "Is tomorrow my wife's birthday??? Oh dear! I better check it out!"
These distractions tend to discourage some people from praying. But think about it. If we stop doing something we really care about because of distractions, we had better live in solitude on some abandoned island! And even then, there WILL be distractions that present themselves!
I cannot let distractions dictate my life. If I did, I would never talk to my wife or my kids! I wouldn't go to work or to church, and I wouldn't even have the luxury of spending time on my hobbies. Distractions constantly conflict with my plans!
Only with persistence was I able to finish my book, and the same can be true of prayer. I have learned to welcome the distractions that occur during prayer. I now see them as an opportunity to pray for those situations. For example, if I remember an overdue bill, I thank God for reminding me, and I pray for those who are going through hardships and can't pay their bills. If I remember my neighbor, Joe, during prayer, I take the time to bring his case to God, even though most of the time I really don't even know what Joe may be facing.
Our attitude determines if we regard these distractions as annoyances or opportunities. Instead of hampering our praying progress, they can enhance our prayer experience.
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Eph 6:18 NIV)
"All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions." (1 Cor 7:35 The Message)
Distractions are opportunities to be prayed for!
P. S. Did you let the dog out before sitting down to pray? This could potentially avoid an unnecessary distraction!
The Illustrator: This daily newsletter is dedicated to encouraging everyone to look towards Jesus as the source of all the solutions to our problems. It contains a daily inspirational story, a Bible verse and encouraging messages. HTML and plain text versions available.
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