When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost connection with God and sent the whole blessed creation into a curse-fueled spin. To fight this ruin we sometimes hold tight to control. The long to-do lists (that never completely get checked); the exalted expectations for a family vacation (gone wrong from the start when the baby pukes or the engine sputters); the Pinterest boards full of what-ifs and somedays (though we fear they’re will-nots and nevers); and the blinding rage when traffic causes us to miss a meeting that promised to balance the whole tilting world on its paper-thin shoulders. The open secret seems hard to swallow: the more we try to reverse the curse, the harder we seem to fall.
It’s easy to focus on our own accomplishments and forget about God. Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had seen God deliver Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace. Yet when Nebuchadnezzar surveyed his kingdom, he still declared himself ruler of all that he saw. Immediately a voice from heaven cursed him with insanity because of his impudence. Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind and became like a wild beast in the field. But at the end of seven years he lifted his eyes to heaven and his sanity returned (Daniel 4).
The lesson stings: we are only in our right minds when we acknowledge that God is God and we are not. Prayer reminds us that only One Lord is sovereign, and His name isn’t spelled with our initials. “I lift up my eyes . . . Where does my help come from?” asked the psalmist. “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1).
Lifting Our eyes
In the 1600s a French soldier named Nicholas lifted his eyes to a leafless tree in winter and realized that it awaited only the changing season for God to bring it bursting into bud. The realization of God’s good sovereignty so overwhelmed him that he vowed to become a monk. In a monastery in Paris he changed his name to Brother Lawrence. It was this Lawrence whose simple practice of acknowledging God in the humdrum activities of life—peeling potatoes, washing dishes, feeding the chickens—revolutionized the way he thought about prayer. He could “practice the Presence of God” all the time in the everyday activities of life. “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God,” said Brother Lawrence what became the beloved classic work, The Practice of the Presence of God. “Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”
All of life is holy. Next time you find yourself up to the elbows in a sudsy sink, breathe out, “Lord, wash my heart clean each day the same way I scrub these dishes.” Or if you’re stuck in traffic, instead of drumming your fingers on the steering wheel or glancing at your watch, look around at the other vehicles and whisper a prayer for your hapless fellow travelers. Waking or sleeping, peeling potatoes or running a meeting, flying high or stalled in the break-down lane with a flat, use prayer to turn every moment into a walk in the garden with God.
What are some routine moments during your day when you can “lift your eyes” and connect with God through prayer?
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