The BEMA (βῆμα, בּימה ): Keeping On
Writers on prayer and the great mystics talk about feasting at the table with the Lord, banqueting in deep fellowship for what seems like hours. After a few months of my return to silent prayer, I confess my times are more like coffee breaks with Jesus!
Two questions roost in the back of my mind, chirping like cheeky sparrows.
What is the holdup? It is easy to start blaming and self-reproaching. That does not help, though, and beating myself up does not really enhance my fellowship with Jesus. Jesus said the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Some days I am not awake enough, and as one my old friends, said, a great cure for insomnia was prayer when you can’t sleep! If I am under time pressure, things do just pile into my prayer time. C.S. Lewis wrote that God gets, in the normal Christian life, about one minute of time with us when we are completely open, unpreoccupied, and able to fully attend to Him – the moment we first wake up in the morning. I confess my brain takes only a few seconds to get firing. When the kids were small, and they were our alarm clock, I was already on the job before I was awake, having responded to their call.
No matter, says Jesus, come back, I can wait.
Just don’t forget me. I am not forgetting you.
Come back, for a while.
Another holdup may be that you are on the edge of a major step forward in waiting on God. We are told to wait on the Lord. Lately that has been my experience. I prepare, and I sit, quietly open and the message is simply silence. Those words of wisdom, love and inspiration – the pebbles in the pond – just aren’t coming.
Just be, with Me.
Hear the birds? Magpies? Do we have anything in common with them?
The constant hum of city life (unless you have a soundless room, it’s always there)?
Do they remind you that I am always keeping track of you?
Is there someone in need or in hurt and fear we can pray for?
That’s ok, Come back.
I have been reminded of the role of music. Some with the gift of song or instrumental skills worship that way. This is how some brilliant worship pieces are born. Others, frankly, should remain in private worship. We need the discernment of the body of Christ about that. A.W. Tozer said that a passerby would have wondered at what his shaky baritone was trying to sing in his private time, but sing with Jesus he did. Mostly, I listen to short pieces and sing with my trusty CD player, which, along with the tape recorder, are my best instruments. And, as my Grade 5 teacher once told me, I sing softly!
The other sparrow question is: What’s the good, or what is the point? I am no prayer warrior (whatever that is)! I am no mystic or great saint. I am not cut out for this. It’s not working like I thought it would. Better get on and just do some good and wait for church on Sunday, when I can really worship.
The problem with this objection is that God is showing me that it isn’t true. I somehow know that I am changing. I see myself sometimes being more patient, less negative, having more inner energy. But, I can priorize, I can relax in ways that I was not experiencing a few months ago. I can experience beauty. Most of all, Jesus is more present to me, all day. I confess I also feel my times of short temper, pessimism, depression or tiredness more. I repent more. I don’t have the “push” I used to put on to get things done. Is this letting go and letting God, as those wise in recovering from addictions say?
So I keep on.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Jesus answers, “See you! Soon.”