Learning To Listen and Praying with Eyes Wide Open

It's been a good Summer... and I have been unapologetically taking time "off" social media and writing for the sake of staying present with my family.  As the kids get older, I'm realizing their independence can easily turn into my excuse for independent parenting... meaning... I can let them play outside without close supervision, they can feed themselves and play with each other (rather than have Mama over here "entertaining" them).  Right?  So, as I set out to live a life of being present, in the moment, with my kids, I realized I had less and less time to listen to the Lord in the quietness of my days.  Seriously, though... Quiet?  What is quiet?
 And that's exactly the problem I faced!  I didn't know what it was like to filter everything out in order to clearly hear from the Lord.

I tried and tried and tried.  And I failed.  And the cycle of feeling defeated because I wasn't listening to God became numbing.  I began to feel indifferent and somewhat "ok" with it all.  


After many years of walking with Christ, I know that indifference and feeling "just ok" with the Lord can be HUGE red flags for me.  I KNOW in my head and heart that my relationship with Jesus comes before all others.  Including my relationship with Joel and the kids.  And that's why I started to MISS His voice.  

So, what have I been learning?  3 things:  
1.  I'm distracted.
Busy schedules.  Appointments.  Chores.  To Do lists.  If I don't invite His presence throughout my daily activities, I am simply and plainly ignoring God.  

2.  He's pursuing me daily.
His Word, the Bible, sits on my living room table and if I don't make the effort to open it, His Words cannot penetrate my soul.  The Lord pursues me through His creation, His people, and even through my circumstances.  But His Word is alive and can speak directly to me.  So why wouldn't I take time for His Word?  It's available.  It's there.  And it's not hard!  

3.  Prayer.
Conversing.  Talking and listening through the Holy Spirit.  It's direct access to the Father.  It doesn't have formulas, rights or wrongs.  I can speak it, whisper it, and even keep my eyes wide open!  It's not hard.  But it takes a conscious choice to come to Him.  It's saying, "Lord, thank you!", "Lord, what is it you want for me to do, right now?", "Lord, what do I do?", "Lord, help!".  It's acknowledging His presence in every aspect of every moment of every hour of every day.  No, it's not hard.  And I thought it would be.  But acknowledging His presence enhances my awareness of God-moments.  Those moments you just KNOW it's only through His power and grace that things are happening the way they are.  

I recently finished reading a book called "Praying With Eyes Wide Open - A Life-Changing Way to Talk with God" by Sherry Harney.  It was NOT just another book about prayer.  It was an eye-opening, literally, way of experiencing God's presence through prayer.  The apostle Paul instructs us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 with these words, "Pray without ceasing."  High calling?  Yes?  Impossible?  Not anymore!  I'm learning to understand this concept a bit better after reading this book.  Harney says, "Praying with eyes closed is certainly not wrong, but never praying with eyes open may keep you from living out the scriptural exhortation - and resulting blessings - of praying continually."  

"...I was reminded that he is consistently speaking to me.  He is directing, inspiring, convicting, blessing, guiding, and talking... he really is.  The problem is not that God fails to communicate with his children; the real issue is that we are distracted, busy, cluttered, loaded down with the cares of life."  And I enjoyed the ways that this book challenged me to become more aware of the times I tend to go to God in prayer more.  Learning to pray with my EYES, EARS, HEART, and LIFE wide open can be challenging, but can potentially change my relationship with Christ, completely!  If you need an encouraging and challenging book, this could be the one!  Sherry Harney also provides praying and journaling prompts at the end of each chapter, which was super helpful!  

And this whole thing about lacking QUIET in my life... God's voice rises ABOVE the noise of life.  Quiet can happen.  But it's an illusive concept.  Who said that God can't speak and that I can't hear from Him unless I'm sitting in the quietness of my day (or night)?  He speaks to me ALL THE TIME!  He speaks to me through every movement, every color, every ticking of time.  He is ever near, ever speaking, and ever present!  He is here, there, and everywhere.  So why couldn't He RISE above the noise in my eyes, ears, and beating of my heart?  


"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you."  James 4:8a

I recently found out that my good childhood friend Claudia, whom I shared life and have many memories from 2nd to 8th grade, lost her husband to a vehicle accident.  Tragic.  She was left with a 3 year old son.  My heart is breaking for her.  Words cannot express how this news shook me.  And I haven't even seen her in over two decades or met her beautiful family.  But the Lord has given her such extraordinary peace, that when she takes one day at a time, even when things don't make sense, she can walk forward with hope.  That's the kind of power I want to experience.  The power of His presence.  The power of daily walking with the Lord.  I remember grief.  And one cannot go through it with hope without Christ.  

So, this post, today, is dedicated to Claudia.  A friend from yesterday and always... my heart breaks for you, friend.  But know that He is NEAR you.  Choose Him today... and each day after that.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of "Praying With Eyes Wide Open" for review purposes from BakerBooks.  My reviews are honest and in no way influenced by their generosity!  

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