Sometimes it is hard for me to focus on Jesus.
Like today, I was sitting in my office trying to pray, and I could not get a grip. Partially because I gave up sugar and that sweet Easter candy that had been forgotten about in my desk started taunting me. Partially because my man and I got in a bit of a tiff this morning.
I may or may not have yelled at him for being holy. Don’t even ask. Partially because I have a million things running through my mind, but most of all HOW TIRED I AM ALL THE TIME.
I once became friends with somebody on Facebook and their “About Me” said, “I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in 11 years.” I thought that was so strange. I even made a comment about it to Kris. He then pointed out, “She had kids 11 years ago.” To which I thought #dramaqueen. Can I please take a moment and say that I was so good at parenting when I didn’t have a kid. Le sigh. I’m wiser now… and more tired. I get it, lady, I get it.
Anyway, I’m trying to pray, and I can’t. So finally in a last ditch attempt to enter into the presence of the Lord I called out, “I can’t focus on you!” Totally an eloquent, graceful type of prayer. Immediately, though, the thought came to me to “Practice the Presence.” Yay! Thanks, God, that’s a good idea! No, I’m not being sarcastic. You see, I have this book of Spiritual Disciplines – it’s actually called that, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook– anyway, one of the disciplines is actually called practicing the presence of God.
As I practiced this discipline throughout my day, I thought I should come and write it about it here in case anybody else ever struggles to meet with God.
Now you might say to me, “Isn’t God always with me? Why do I need to practice?” Sure, that’s fair. However, if we think about any of the important relationships in our lives, a common theme amongst all of them is that we take the time to invest in them, open ourselves up to them and allow those relationships to speak into us. This is exactly what practicing the presence of God is. It is simply opening our lives and inviting God into every moment and being open to meeting Him in each moment as well.
Many times I have had dear people say to me, “God just doesn’t speak to me.” My question always is, “How often do you allow God the opportunity? Do you have regular fellowship with Him or is He your ‘Hail Mary’ every now and again?” I ask simply because we have to begin cultivating a life focused on Him if we truly want to hear from Him and know Him.
I love this discipline because anybody can do it, no matter how busy. I can put it into practice when I am at the grocery store, taking care of my baby, working, or even….wait for it….on the toilet.
I don’t know why I said that. Sorry, Dad. There are numerous exercises to help you practice the presence and engage with God throughout the day, but one of my very favorite, and the one I have been using today is called “Breath Prayer.” This is super easy…and holy! (I feel like this deserves a wink. WINK)
Since we breathe all day long, and since we can do it whenever, wherever, it makes perfect sense to turn our breathing into a prayer. Which creates an openness between ourselves and Jesus. Perhaps the most famous breath prayer is titled, “The Jesus Prayer.” It takes Luke 18:39, “Son of David, have mercy on me” and Luke 18:13, “God have mercy on me, a sinner” and combines them together.
Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Breathe in: Jesus, Son of David,
Breathe out: Have mercy on me, a sinner.
That’s it. Breathe and pray. This prayer allows you to enter into God’s presence in the car, on the phone, during a fight, while going to sleep, etc., and invites God to speak into each moment that we are facing.
This prayer is also one of my favorites because you can easily create your own prayer.
Here are some of the examples my book gave:
Abba. I belong to you.
Healer. Speak the word and I shall be healed.
Shepherd. Bring home my lost son.
Holy One. Keep me true.
Lord. Here am I.
Some of the prayers I made up today were:
Prince of Peace. Rest on Ana. (Great nap time prayer!)
Sustainer. You are all I need.
Feel free to join with me today in breath prayers. I would love to hear some of the ones you create!