“I have called you friends.” Jn 15:15 NKJV
In his book The Practice of the Presence of God, a French monk called Brother Lawrence suggests we pray short conversational prayers throughout the day rather than long complex ones. To maintain our focus and counteract our wandering thoughts, he writes: “I do not advise you to use a great multitude of words in prayer, since long discourses are often occasions for wandering.” What great insight! In the age of attention deficit disorder (ADD) this centuries-old suggestion to “keep it simple” still works. Paul writes, “Pray all the time” (1Th 5:17 TM). “But how can I do that?” you ask. One way is to use breath prayers, as many of the great saints and writers have done through the ages. You choose a simple phrase that can be repeated in one breath: “Lord, You are with me.” “I am depending on You.” “I want to know You better.” “Help me to trust You more.” You can also use short phrases of Scripture: “For me to live is Christ.” “You will never leave me.” “You will supply all my needs.” Repeat it until it’s rooted deeply in your heart and begins to reflect in your attitude and actions. This is a skill, a habit you can develop. Just as musicians practice the scales every day in order to play well, you can discipline yourself to think about God at different times in your day. “But sometimes I don’t feel God’s presence,” you say. If you’re seeking an emotion, you’ve missed the point. Your goal is not a feeling, but a continual awareness that God is always with you!
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