“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (Acts 1: 14)” “They”, the eleven original disciples and the women turned to prayer in that in-between time. We all experience in-between times when God feels so distant and we can’t see him or touch him and are not sure what to do next. I often joke and say, “I wish God would send a fax! It would be so much easier and clearer.” But that is not how God works. Often there is a lull, “a calm before the storm.” During those times we imagine and wonder what life is going to be like after…. We lean on community. But we also have the gift of prayer.
Prayer can be like writing a list for Santa Clause but as we grow, prayer becomes a form of communication. Have you ever found that as you are trying to explain something to someone, that if they are quiet, the tendency is to keep talking and explaining. Sometimes we call that the gift of presence. Just sitting with someone as they sort through their thoughts and feelings and quietly listening, without judging, is a great gift. My friend is a “listener.” She will be allowed back into the prisons this week to be an official listener. She sits with women and gives them the gift of listening and letting them tell their story. I sometimes fear that in our hurry, scurry world today that we do not have time to just sit with friends. God has time and the disciples needed to spend time in prayer, sorting through their experiences in community and in prayer, conversation with God.
I took a class on meditation as a young adult. 20 minutes a day of just sitting calmly and meditating on a “mantra” or on Scripture, and slowing your breathing, lowers the blood pressure and adds health to your life. Some people like to form a picture in their mind that helps them focus on a truth about God. Perhaps it is of the Good Shepherd. Perhaps it is of Jesus welcoming the children. I love the picture of Jesus standing with a youth at the helm of his boat on a stormy sea and Jesus has his hand on the person’s shoulder directing. Prayer helps us focus on eternal truth. Our lives are in the hands of God and he is present with us and he cares.
Prayer can help me stop focusing on my problems as I think about all the other people I would like to talk to God about. We call that intercession, when we pray for the world and for others we are concerned about. As my thinking broadens to others, my problems shrink from their enlarged size and become more manageable.
I don’t know what you are facing and what in-between zone you are in right now, but I do know that as you think about what the future will be like, as you join together in community, and as you pray, God will be present and listening. As you allow him help you carry your load, hope begins to bubble up in your soul. A brief story. A driver picked up a hitch hiker who had a large backpack. The driver told the person to put his pack on the floor but the person felt he had to carry it. The rider insisted on carrying a load that the car would have carried so the rider could rest. Prayer is allowing God to help us carry our load. Blessings as you journey.