“It’s me, it’s me, O Lord, standin’ in the need of prayer …”
During middle-of-the-night prayer a few days ago, I was confessing how many things so easily distract me from focused prayer. Especially memories, good and bad both. So I started thanking God for the pleasant memories.
The Spirit urged me to thank God for painful memories, too, so I gave it a whirl, and boy there were a lot of them. Some required more wrestling than others, and I started to identify with Jacob. Among those memories were missed opportunities, lost abilities, poor decisions.
Then something started to happen. As I thanked Him, I felt my heart softening toward the people involved in those painful memories, including myself. I mean, actual softening. His presence started to flow through my thoughts and emotions like a fresh stream or a cool breeze. And I started to sense that this is how God moves.
How we react to things determines how they affect us. “Shall we accept only good from God, and not trouble?” Wasn’t it Job who asked that? (Job 2:10) We all have bad things happen to us. If we build up resentment and anger, that becomes a stone inside us. Stones weigh us down. The old power-to-weight ratio works against our thoughts, our movements, even our dreams.
I started to see the good-to-evil ratio in a new light:
God flows. Love flows. Forgiveness flows.
Anger stops up. Bitterness clogs.
The more I stay in God’s flow, seek it out and move with it, the more I understand how He works. And that flow is irresistible. It overcomes whatever doesn’t move with it, like a river cutting through ancient stone. It flows through the generations, through eternity.
The apostle Paul put it this way: that good shall overcome evil (Romans 12:21). That’s hard to believe if all I see are the things I am stuck with, the things that don’t move. But once I glimpse God’s movement and seek to move with Him, I understand how He cannot fail.
Knowing this doesn’t fix everything I face every day, of course, and there’s still wrestling involved, but it comforts me to know God is moving. And when I make the time to seek Him, I move with Him. That is what prayer is becoming to me.