Connecting With God

When I was a little girl, I used to write letters back and forth with my step grandma. We would talk about the weather, my grandmother’s adventures as a woman living alone on a ranch, the funny happenings of our family, good books we have read, and when we might see one another again. We would send pictures and crafts back and forth. I remember waiting impatiently to receive my grandmother’s response in the mail with each letter that I sent. I remember running to the mailbox searching the letters and bills for her familiar beautiful penmanship and then ripping into the letter to read her pages of answered questions, stories interestingly shared, and most importantly feeling that connection with someone I only got to see once a year. Back then, I patiently waited sometimes for weeks. Now I get annoyed to have to wait a couple of days to receive a response from someone via email. I think our constant access to one another through technology has deteriorated our ability to wait, to listen, and to experience a response.

Sometimes when we talk to God, it can be frustrating to continue praying when you feel like God is not listening or responding. This is why I like the combination of scripture passages for this morning because it deals directly with this issue. It is not that God is not getting the message, or is not hearing the prayers, or is ignoring us. But rather we have not positioned ourselves in such a way to hear the answers to those prayers and we are not always open for the reality of the answers God provides. Perhaps our skills of waiting and observing, of listening have gotten a little rusty in this modern-day world of technology.

Sometimes the answers to our prayers are not obvious because God is doing something unexpected. In Habakkuk, he positions himself to watch for the answer to his prayer from the watchtower. He is using not only his ears but more importantly his heart and all of his senses to tune into God. We are encouraged to do the same thing. When we talk to God, we need to take the time to position ourselves in such a way that we are awaking all of our senses to the presence, word, and will of God. So we can hear and feel his answers when they come.

Like Jesus taught, prayer is not just about a show. It is not about receiving immediate attention. It is not about showing off our piousness or connectedness to God. It is about so much more than that. It is about developing that private, humble relationship with God. It is about developing our skills to connect with God through our senses, through our patience, through our longing. Hearing God, communicating with God, does not just happen, we have to make the necessary changes to our lives to open ourselves to the often-subtle ways that God answers prayers.

We are called to make room for the word of God in our lives, to seek out God in those private moments, in our vulnerability, and then to patiently wait for his answers keeping our eyes open to the possibilities of God. We need to find ways to awaken our senses to God at work in us, in one another, and all around us. As a child, I loved the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, she wrote this powerful message, “If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden”.[1]

God is all around us, alive and well, speaking to us and reaching out to us. The problem is we are not always looking for the answers in the right places. We don’t always allow God the freedom to answer our prayers as he sees fit. We don’t always spend the time on the other end of the conversation listening for the ways that God may be speaking. We need to find our watchtower to see that the whole world is a garden that God is creating just for us. Christ is calling us to work on our patience, to work on our connectedness, to seek out God for God’s sake, and not for the attention or the comfort of other people responding to our piousness.

In our scriptures, Christ urges us to approach prayer differently, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him”.[2] So this week take some time to pray. Find a quiet spot, and when you pray work in those moments of silence and just listen, be watchful, be expectant, and learn to tune your senses into the voice and presence of God once more. Wait in patience and observe just how God is choosing to reach out to you.

[1] Frances Hodgson Burnett, 19th century.

[2] Matthew 6:6-8, NIV.