Rest seems to be scarce these days.
Not because I don't get enough time to sleep at night.
Not because I have been working too vigorously.
Not because I don't take opportunities throughout the day to take a moment and recollect myself.
No, this is more like a spiritual unrest. Why? Honestly, I have no idea. Is it bad? I don't think so. What I do know is that because of this state of unrest, I have had many opportunities arise from it.
My mind never stops going. Or should I say my prayers never stop going. No, they are not fancy, complicated ones. Just simply prayers about doubts, fears, feelings of inadequacy, being overwhelmed, asking for strength, opportunities, clarity, and the list goes on and on...
For the overwhelming majority of my life, prayer had always been an incredibly intimidating action to me. Perhaps it was through the fear of being the one in the youth group called out to close the evening of fellowship with a group prayer or listening to people (who I believed to be much higher than me in "God's ranks of spirituality") who had these wonderful, complex prayers with words I had never even dreamed of. Bottom line: I felt inadequate when it came to corporate prayer. But those feelings didn't stop there. My fear carried over into my personal prayer life. I felt as though I shouldn't talk to God unless I had something important to say or unless I had this eloquent doxology prepared. My view of God was extremely flawed.
As a young believer, I read 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and instantly felt this strange sense of oppression. Was it even possible to go throughout your entire day without ceasing to pray? I didn't think so, at least for myself. This passage, which was meant to eschatologically encourage the believers in Thessalonica seemed to have the opposite effect on me. I have only begun to understand what Paul meant in this past year. Being in constant prayer isn't fumbling around like a man trying desperately to keep an inevitably dying conversation going with a woman who is clearly not interested, but being in a union of spirit. It's seeing the world around you through spiritually tuned eyes. It's about constantly being open to opportunities and then being obedient to the ones that the spirit leads you to. It's about making God a part of every aspect of your day and always being mindful of the hope that He has given you.
As I reflect on this past week, I am thankful for this "unrest". In fact, I think I have finally fallen out of a deep sleep of sorts and am finally trying to become in tune to where the spirit is leading. Throughout the next weeks, months, etc., I am going to challenge myself to look at the world around me in a different way. I have been "resting" for far too long, and the result has been me becoming numb to my surroundings, even in a somewhat new context, such as Bosnia.
How has my view of prayer changed in the last few years? Now I see that prayer is:
Prayer is communion. Prayer is a refuge. Prayer is vulnerable. Prayer is messy. Prayer is desperate. Prayer is comforting. Prayer is stretching. Prayer is love. Prayer is encouraging. Prayer is direct. Prayer is something to be treasured. Prayer is a necessity. Prayer is personal.
God knows the depths of my heart. All day, every day. He knows what I need before I ask for it. I am thankful that God desires me as the filthy human that I am, who is in desperate need of His love and grace. Recognizing that is enough for Him. I thankful for a God who is in constantly opens doors, encourages us, challenges us, and speaks to us. He desires to be in communion with His people (which blows my mind). HALLELUIAH!