This week, I was invited to do something I haven’t done in a while: to be quiet before the Lord.
I know what you’re thinking. But Mike, don’t you do that all the time? Well…no, I don’t. It’s a common assumption that pastors get up before sunrise every day to pray for three hours, but that’s just not me. I’m a night owl thanks to my mother, and more often than not my prayers are written down, sung, or expressed in an ongoing dialogue between me and God.
That’s not to say that I don’t value traditional silent prayer. In fact, I’d like to cultivate that discipline. But, like anyone, I make excuses for why I
can’t won’t (school is starting back up, my second job is keeping me too busy, some days I just need rest, etc.).
Regardless, on Wednesday I was given permission to slow down and hear from God. I’m spending the week in Denver for a Covenant Orientation class, and our instructors have been starting our time together with daily devotions and prayer. On this particular morning, our instructor gave a brief talk and then asked us to be silent and present ourselves to God.
I quieted my heart and prayed these words, over and over: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.”
Lately I have been feeling stress from several areas of my life, so much that sometimes I feel like I’m rushing through everything just to get it done. As a result, I’ve felt my joy slipping. It’s not that I’m depressed or that I have any reason to be sad; it’s just that I feel like sometimes I’m simply existing rather than living into my identity as a child of God.
So in the silence, I asked the Lord to breathe newness into me – and that’s exactly what happened. I felt a peace that I haven’t known in quite some time.
And get this: at the end of our quiet time, our instructor broke the silence by reading these words…
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
– Psalm 95:1-7
God used these words to remind me that he’s in control, he’s got my back, and he’ll take care of me if I let him. I don’t remember if it came to me during my prayer or not, but the words that have stuck with me since then are, “Be still, and know that I am God.” What a gift.
I don’t know what it will look like yet, but when I return to my normal routine I’m going to carve out more time for being silent before God. I want to continue recapturing my joy. I don’t want to rush through my days; I want to experience new life in Christ to its fullest extent!