Georges River Congregational Church Devotion from Pastor Haydn Sennitt –
Prayer Stage 1: Silence is Golden
I have been a Christian for almost 20 years, but there is one aspect of my journey where I am like kid in nappies: prayer. It has to be one of the most undeveloped aspects of my walk and often it feels like the first time I started driving. Why? The physical aspects of prayer aren’t difficult: in fact, if I were completely paralysed, prayer may be the only thing that I can do! And doing it is as easy as talking to a friend on the phine, without repetition or über-boring “Thees and Thous”.
I don’t think I am alone in this struggle. Perhaps the problem is our assumptions about prayer. As I’ve written before, we probably think that the primary purpose of prayer is to get stuff from God, rather than getting more of God. We put petitionary prayer (‘Gimme a job’) before relational prayer (‘God, take me deeper into Yourself’). We can also pray carelessly, forgetting that God is the holy One who sits among fire and lightening (Ezekiel 1:22-28). Consequently, we forget the admonition of Ecclesiastes 5:2a: “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.” (NKJV).
The good news is that we can get out of this trap. Pastor Rick Warren suggests that when we pray, we “wait on God (relax) and be still for a minute; don’t come running into God’s presence and start talking immediately. Follow God’s admonition: “Be still and know that I am God”. I’ve found that doing this for about five minutes before praying has been very helpful. During that time, I engage in 7-4-7 breathing, where I inhale deeply for 7 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, and then exhale for 7 seconds and repeat it about ten times. (Increased oxygen helps us to be calm and relaxed.) I do this with my eyes closed, to focus my mind on being in His presence, like Mary at Jesus’ feet. I also read a portion of Scripture in order to reflect on an attribute of God, like His justice, just taking it all in.
Perhaps you can try it when you go to your prayer closet; take your time coming into God’s presence and enjoy the times of quiet, to prepare your heart. You will be amazed at how it helps to put things in their proper place.
~ Pastor Haydn.