Thank You for the Grass.
I get bored easily. I’ve always been that way. If my mind, mouth, fingers, feet, or any other part of my body is not occupied, I go absolutely crazy. It’s my biggest strength and my downfall at times.
Being occupied all the time has created a side-effect of forgetfulness and side-tracking. Most of the time, those two things can be remedied through keeping an organized planner. However, one area of my life seemed to be buried under the busy: my prayer life. When I prayed, I would often forget what I started praying for because I started thinking about something else. Or I would ramble to God before sleep, never finishing a complete thought before drifting to dreamland.
If you’ve ever had a lacking prayer life, you know it flows over into every area of your life. You start to be less grateful, you’re less conscious of things happening around you, and you feel like God is a long-distance friend you only call on when you need something. I had to fix it. God has always perfectly pursued me in our relationship. He guides me, loves me, comforts me, and keeps every single one of his promises. I couldn’t even pay attention long enough to finish one conversation with him. How fair is that?
One day I was walking outside of work at lunch, frustrated at my prayer life. I didn’t really know where to begin as far as being more consistent or more intentional. Finally, I just blurted out, “God, thank you for the grass.” Basking in the stupidity I felt, I kept going. “God, thank you that grass gives us oxygen.” Okay…okay, wait, I could work with this. “God, thank you for giving my lungs the ability to fill up with the oxygen that powers my body.” Pretty soon, I had been praying a prayer of gratitude for my entire 30-minute lunch break!
That lunch prayer happened every day for months. It changed here and there, but it always started with noticing something small, like the lunch I brought to work or the construction work on the side of the road. Pretty soon I was back in an active prayer life. I didn’t see it as work or a chore. I looked forward to what I was going to notice that day that would launch me into a conversation with God.
I’m grateful for that first lunch prayer. My prayer life wouldn’t be what it is today without it. And it all started with a patch of grass. Since that day, I’ve learned three things about how to cultivate a consistent and intentional prayer life.
1. Talk to God like you would talk to your best friend.
When I talk to my husband or best girlfriend, I tell stories of my day. I ask them questions. I confide in them with the things I’m struggling. There’s variety in our conversation because if I just asked them for things I could just go to a vending machine. When I pray, I want there to be the same sort of variety because God is my friend. Look at the Lord’s Prayer, also called the model prayer. Jesus guides us to tell God who he is (hallowed), ask for forgiveness, and asks for God to provide our needs. It’s a full conversation.
2. Prayer takes a combination of stillness and discipline.
One thing I admire about Jesus is his habit of walking away from people to pray. Jesus was mindful of his surroundings and possible distractions. His conversations with God were too important to be interrupted or side-tracked. They required his full attention, so he disciplined himself to retreat. Corporate and group prayer is important, and we should never forsake that. But God is relational and personal. He wants us to abide in him as he abides in us. When I stepped back from my unhealthy need to always be occupied in order to notice God, my prayer life flourished. I found him in the stillness, in the mundanity of life.
3. God is an active part in his creation, even the mundanity.
God isn’t just a giant floating head in the sky. He wants to be an active part of our lives and in his creation. His spirit is in all the things I pass by during the day that I might consider too small to notice, like the way rain smells on the concrete or the way I feel when I finally show patience in a difficult situation. He celebrates with us when we share the gospel. He weeps with us when a friend dies. He is never leaving us or forsaking us because we are his beloved children. And that alone should motivate me to be an active part in that relationship.
If you don’t know where to start, start small. God is not asking us for perfect, eloquent prayers. He’s asking for a relationship that grows intimately because you abide in each other. Amen.