Today I found myself sitting on a hay bale in the middle of an 80-acre farm in Georgia. It was quite the opposite of the go-go-go on a usual Saturday in Arizona and I breathed in the quiet with joy.
I'm in this part of Georgia for a quick 3 day trip to speak at a church about AYM and I am relishing in the space to think and the quiet that enables me to pray in a way I haven't quite found time for in the midst of my excuses.
It was the topic of prayer that came up last night as I was retelling stories of my solo trip to India to my host. I exclaimed that I wasn't quite sure why I went, since I would never hop on a plane alone and go to India now. My host replied that it seemed for whatever reason to have been in God's plan for me to go.
As I considered this I began to recall the lessons I learned in faith while alone in India. One of the key things I remember was how close I was to God in those 5 weeks. I was alone, but He was with me. Every thought was a prayer and every prayer was immediately answered. I remember praying constantly and with such fervor and earnest because I knew that I literally could not survive without Him and His provisions. My conversations with God were almost my only conversations as I lived in a place where I did not know the language. I prayed in necessity, understanding for once in my life my true and undeniable dependence on Him. He was my only option, my only hope, and my prayers reflected the deepest and most tangible relationship with Him I have ever had. In those five weeks I feel that I truly understood my need for God.
Together my host and I reflected on that aspect of the experience. As we thought about the life of prayer that I led for those few weeks we lamented the fact that our prayer lives do not look like that now. How amazing it would be, we decided, if we had that kind of prayer life when things were "easy." What difference would it make if we prayed in earnest, truly understanding that He is our only hope in the everyday situations. What if when our friends asked us for prayer we stopped and prayed passionately, truly believing that He would immediately hear us and answer those prayers?
I read the end of James in the Bible and he tells us that in all things we should pray and I recently got caught up in that passage. For a moment I sat there wondering, "but what about when He doesn't answer me?" Sitting on that hay bale I realized, "Perhaps I am not truly believing in earnest that He will."
As I sit in the Georgia sun and the quiet of the farm envelopes me with the wind, I begin to pray. For the first time in a while life feels quiet enough and I feel far enough away that it is just me and God. I talk to Him like a friend, a mentor, like the One who controls it all. For the first time in a while everything is calm enough that I can focus on one thing. . . the God who holds my world in His hands. I don't receive answers in the clouds or even perhaps gain more clarity on the whys and hows of my life, but I feel a peace and I feel His presence as I slow down enough to pray with earnest.
I hope that I can perhaps find that prayer relationship I had with God in India again in my normal life. I want to believe like that, to depend so severely on His mercy. I want to pray and mean it and I want to see what happens when I find again that desperate depth of dependence.