How to Feel Lighter in 60 Seconds
Here’s the truth …
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20 ESV).
Tick tock. Tick tock. I listened to the hum of the multitude of clocks on the wall near me in our living room. We thought it made a beautiful design feature to have multiple clocks artfully placed on the same wall. Some large, some small, each clock represents the time in another part of the world that holds meaning for us, including a giant one in the middle which displays the local time.
As I sat to read my daily devotional, I listened to the chorus of ticking that somehow created a melody and not a distraction in my normally chatter-filled home; and I looked up at the clocks to see if I could somehow learn how they all worked in harmony. It was then that I noticed that one clock’s arms had stopped moving—the clock that represented the time in a country far away where I had once gone on a short-term missions trip. My devotional that day, on prayer, had brought to my mind all of the sweet women I had met on that trip who desperately needed my prayers. When was the last time, though, that I had taken the time to pray for their individual needs?
There was one woman who was making so little money crafting baskets and jewelry for a living that she painstakingly created the most beautiful pastries to sell on the side so that she could send her children to college. There was another who couldn’t seem to pass a needed exam so that she could attend graduate school, where freedom and a fulfilling life awaited her. Another had just privately given her heart to Jesus while living among family members who were so hardened to such an idea that she could be killed if they ever found out. During my time there, I learned so much from their talents and even offered some of my own to them since I could teach them a language with which they struggled. They seemed so genuinely sad to part company with me and with those from my church who accompanied me. Maybe it was the hope in our eyes and in our smiles—the love for Jesus that emanated from us—that enlivened them. Living in the desert, physically and spiritually, would make it hard to find that kind of love in the day to day of their lives. The stopped clock reminded me of that. The harmony of my ticking clocks, the ebb and flow of my life of ease, was elusive for them.
I stopped doing what I was doing right then and prayed earnestly for those women—for their finances, for their dreams to be fulfilled, for their children and husbands to find their way to Jesus, for their country to be bursting with life amidst the barren darkness, etc.
It got me thinking about others who don’t get my prayers because of my own distraction-filled life. Am I able to take the focus off of myself and my family long enough in my prayers to think about the needs of others? Do I have to be in the same country, physically, to recall the problems and causes there that desperately need God’s attention? My house is filled with animation constantly. Ticking clocks are nothing compared to my singing and dancing daughter. It seems as though there isn’t enough quiet to remember what I said I would do, even though I have the best of intentions. I suppose that we are all guilty of saying, “I am praying for you” and not really doing it. But I want to improve.
So, what I have done recently is to pray right then and there when someone has a specific need. Usually, in a text, someone will update a group. I type out a prayer right then that I would say throughout the week, should I remember to pray later about it, and I send it out in a response text. With that done, I help myself to fulfill a promise and I help others in the group who had the same intentions but might not have remembered later either! They read my text and pray for the situation in agreement with me. This makes Jesus smile, I’m sure, because He once said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20 ESV).
Texting in a group is a form of gathering. But this also applies to praying on the spot when you run into someone at the store. Or when someone calls you with a need. Let’s not be people who say, “I will certainly pray for you.” Let’s, instead, be proactive and put to ease the troubled minds of our friends who have asked for our help, not later but right now!
Know that I don’t always do this. But I really do try. It’s one way of acknowledging people who are counting on us—trusting us with their biggest life concerns—to take those concerns on their behalf to our Lord. It could be because they are too overwhelmed themselves. It could be because they don’t have the words. It could be because they don’t feel like they have the right to ask God for one more thing. Or it could simply be because they need all hands on deck, including their own.
What I have found when I do this in person with people is that it calms them pretty much immediately. They were filled with anxious thoughts in the sharing of their turmoil, but my prayer sets the tone that God has taken the turmoil from them so they needn’t carry it any longer. It seems as though they walk away a bit lighter, and it only took 60 seconds!
… and that’s the truth as I know it!