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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Best of Intentions

It begins with the very best of intentions.

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

Prayer area, snuggled in my bed, low light on ~ check

Bible ~ check

Devotional Study ~ check

Something to sip on ~ check

Pen, journal and anything else I've scooped up along the way ~ check

I have worked hard in "quieting my soul." I come prepared and if I'm being honest (and I am), I have to admit that sometimes it sounds like this:

"Father God, I want to put myself in a place of peace with you....
drats, I forgot to take meat out for dinner, and the girls owe money today for class; have to remember to write that check, trash goes out tomorrow and recycling too."

"Oops, I lost focus for a moment, but I'm back God. I want more than anything to be in your perfect will and oh man, that lesson plan for Friday, haven't done it yet and tomorrow if I get up early I can exercise, and I need to get the kids to get those thank you notes done, and I told them I'd bring cookies to class, what kind should I bake? I really have to get that hair color for my hair."

Again...I've lost my prayer focus.

I'm distracted not by the things that surround me physically, but the distractions in my mind. I've quieted myself and now I have to quiet my soul, and truly 'be still.'

“God never ceases to speak to us, but the noise of the world without and the tumult of our passions within bewilder us and prevent us from listening to him." Francois Fenelon

It frustrates me and I'm working on it. I imagine many women with to-do lists a mile long are plagued with the same distractions. We physically slow down, but we don't slow our minds down long enough to center ourselves on God, and yet we expect to 'hear' Him amidst the noises within our heads that disrupt our time of 'stillness.'

I have come up with a few things that work for a gal in perpetual motion like myself. Before I come to my "quiet time" I make my lists. All of the things that tend to distract me from my time with the Lord. The lists are a mile long some days, but if I make the list, then when I come to my time with the Lord I can focus on what He is saying and not on the tasks of the day. I can mention those things on the list that are troubling my heart and instead of it being a distraction, it becomes part of the prayer.

I've also learned how to not WAIT for quiet time to engage in a heart to heart with my God. This Martha spirit has learned to slow down a bit, and I've learned to pray my way through the day. I have a journal that I'm keeping with me so that when I'm sitting waiting to pick up a child, I can be seizing the quiet moment in the car.

I have tried for the past few years to "set aside" time, and in that I've neglected the opportunities of quiet that appear throughout the day. These "quiet moments" come in unlikely places, usually when I'm doing something that causes others to "scatter." Folding laundry, showering and coming home from dropping a child off at classes are ALL "be still and know that I am God" opportunities in the midst of a hurried life. I am learning that there are opportunities within the chaos to be "momentarily still" and utter a prayer of thanks for the warm water or the coffee that flows. There are times when I can still my soul within the daily demands. I don't have to completely shut down to let God in.

God knows my heart, He KNOWS that I long to have a conversation with Him that is intimate and constant. He understands where I am. He knows what I struggle with and it's in talking constantly to Him that I feel connected, really connected. He hears the interruptions that fill my day, and HE longs to be a part of it all. Talking to Him throughout the day has made it such that when I do 'stop' for the day, I can truly stop and 'be still' with Him, knowing that all along I've been sharing the details He longs to hear. It's in that peace that I can quiet myself and truly, in my quiet time, "BE STILL and KNOW that HE is GOD" (psalm 46:10).

I ponder a quote that I read some time back that has helped me in praying continually to God,

“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.” Brother Lawrence

Guide me as I journey into a more intimate relationship with you. Help me to treat you as my best friend, chatting with you continually throughout the day. Help me to "sieze" the quiet moments that you carefully place in my day so that I may quiet my spirit and "be still," even for a few moments to hear your voice and feel your presence. I want to throw off all that hinders me, and I want to run the race with endurance. I want to feel your presence at my side, not just in the quiet moments but in the chaos that is daily life as well. It's involving YOU in every part of my day Lord that I will draw closer to you, and that is truly my heart's desire.

Join Lori daily at her personal blogspot, where she can be found finding Jesus in the daily details of her life. She is continually learning how to "be still."

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Blogger Denise said...

May you be greatly blessed dear.

January 20, 2009 at 12:13 AM  
Blogger Debbie said...

I remember hearing the phrase "constant, conscious, communication" with God. That's how I pray my day will be. I've found that taking the time to have a quiet time in the morning, whether short or long, helps me to orient my day to His timetable. It's not a legalistic thing but it's been such a help for me. I pray that I would be open to the Divine appointments He might have for me this day. Then instead of looking at them as interuptions, I recognize they are those God moments.

January 20, 2009 at 12:58 AM  
Blogger Pamela said...

THANK YOU for this today! I needed it.

Have a blessed day!


January 20, 2009 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Oh what a GREAT word for us all today.

Love you Lori!! This wasa fantastic!!!

January 20, 2009 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Lori, Thanks for posting your heart and your struggles...I know many can relate to the distractions of this world. It's hard not to be swallowed up in them.

I love what Brother Lawrence said... I am discovering that there are so many ways to "be" with Him.

Hugs to you today!

January 20, 2009 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger TCKK said...

Thank you for these words and the reminder to be still before our God.

January 20, 2009 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful Word. I relate so very much to what you wrote. Thank you for reminding me to use wisely those quiet times peppered throughout my day. Love that quote.


January 20, 2009 at 11:46 AM  
Anonymous sheila said...

I almost thought you were listening to my prayers this morning when I read what yours sounded like! : ) i do my quiet times in the bathroom...with no household duties screaming my name as they often do. I've also learned that if I keep a small notepad next to me where I can write down random thoughts that may try to steal my focus, I can return to my prayer much faster. thanks so much for your honesty - i absolutely loved the way you wrote your prayer!

January 20, 2009 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger Darnelle said...

Could anything be more universal than Moms struggling to FIND quiet time and then struggling to FOCUS when we do? I'll bet many chicks feel a little better about themselves today when they learned that they aren't the only ones who struggle. Thanks for putting yourself out there for us, My Dear. Your words have ushered in a little more freedom for a lot of us today! Or, in the words of my 9yo daughter when I make cinnamon rolls. . . "YOU DA MAN, MAMA!"

January 20, 2009 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger LauraLee Shaw said...

God knows my heart, He KNOWS that I long to have a conversation with Him that is intimate and constant. He understands where I am.

Such a comforting thought. He knows the difference between when I long to be with Him and when I'm making excuses from being with Him. That is life-giving insight, Lori. Wowzer.

BTW, Fenelon is one of my fav devotional writers. He knows how to go to the deeper places. Love Brother Lawrence too. ;)

January 20, 2009 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger Laurie Ann said...

Oh, Lori! You so hit the nail on the head with this post! We can be still in so many ways! Not just in our standard quiet time but throughout the day...

January 20, 2009 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

To be ever so still, this is something that I am working on, I have noticed that when we are still this is when you can really hear the Lord speak to your soul

January 20, 2009 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Tricia said...

Hey Lori
A great devotion about taking advantage of those "still" moments that happen upon us during our days. I too like to make a list so that when I sit down to spend time with my Lord I am less distracted. I also like to keep a notepad with me, so that if a thought pops into my head I need to jot down I can do that and forget it for a while.

I love the quote by Brother Lawrence, have you read his book, Practicing the Presence of God, it is wonderful!


January 20, 2009 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger Beth@Not a Bow in Sight said...

That was amazing...just the word I needed today. The chaos of having three sons under 6 certainly eats up a lot of my brain power at any given moment.

January 20, 2009 at 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Rhonda said...

I always feel so guilty when I rise in the morning to come and meet with God, to already have my mind reeling with the days expectancies.
You must read the book "My heart-Christ's Home" by Rober Boyd Munger. This was awesome in helping me "be still" and I look forward every minute of every day to find time to "sit with God" and let him love me.

January 21, 2009 at 7:52 AM  
Blogger Betsy Markman said...

"I've also learned how to not WAIT for quiet time to engage in a heart to heart with my God...I don't have to completely shut down to let God in."

These are such valuable lessons to learn! Satan loves to confuse us, and he often drags Christians into Eastern Mysticism and the occult (or "Christianized" versions of the same) by telling them that the way to God is to "shut down." Satan has counterfeits for everything, and the command to "Be still" is one he has counterfeited very well indeed. It sounds like you are learning what no mystic, no meditative yogi can know...that it is not physical stillness that is the path to God. As vital as peace and quiet are at times, many people have trod peacefully and quietly into the world of unholy spirits who masquerade as angels of light. So you are blessed because you see that "shutting down" is not the answer.

Can you imagine the disciples in the boat on the stormy sea, sitting down to empty their minds so they could find peace? Of course not! They hurried to Jesus! You're doing the same. That's so important.

Praise God for the times of quiet that He allows in our lives, but praise Him, too, that we can bring our chaos to Him in the middle of our storms, and let HIM create the peace in our souls, rather than trying to create it ourselves.

Thank you for this thought-provoking article.

January 21, 2009 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Alexia said...

What an encouraging post for me! I have been struggling with getting up early and having quiet time with God. It seems like something always gets in the way of that!

There are two people who come to mind when I think of "quite times" with God as a mother. Susannah Wesley, who I've read would sit down in the middle of her kitchen (with kids running helter-skelter), throw her apron over her head and talk with God. And also my mom, we would wake up in the mornings to her lying on the floor, pillow over her head, talking to God. We were allowed to play around her, lay with her, but we knew that we were to leave her be because she was talking with God.

It's always reminded me that there are numerous opportunities during the day to commune with God and it doesn't necessarily have to be done "the proper way" to be from your heart.

January 22, 2009 at 1:37 PM  

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