In an office one time a man attempts to move a desk through a narrow doorway. Another man comes in and tries to help from the other side, after doing this for a while they fail and feel defeated by the desk. The first man throws in the towel “At this rate,” he says, gasping for air, “We’re never goanna get it in.” “In?” The other man says in disgust and disbelief, “I was trying to get it “out!”
A lot of times in prayer we can do this with God, where we tell him over and over what we want and think is best is for us, where we may want to push when he wants us to pull. If we ever get caught in this trap, where we don’t want to listen and surrender, we will grow tired and get distressed. God doesn’t want that for us, He wants us to be as Psalm 46 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
“Be still and know that I am God” is our advent theme for this year and that is what my prayer for you is this advent. Yet all of us can forget to be still and to listen to him. We may just want him to listen to us. Advent is a moment for growth and giving the Lord our undivided attention so that He can guide us to a better life. He wants to have a conversation with us this season and one great way to do this is to focus more on learning how to pray. He wants to teach us how to be still and how to listen. Christ is always present in our lives, but again we can miss Him by the busyness of our lives. We can make prayer a ritual instead of an encounter moment with our Savior. Prayer is not something to do, rather it is about being with someone who loves us so much that he would rather die than spend all of eternity without us. Prayer is all about relationship with our loving God. Prayer is so much more than seeing God as a lucky charm, a divine rabbit’s foot where we pull him out only when we need him. If we pray that way only, it really isn’t a loving relationship, it is a relationship of use and convenience and nothing will happen.
Jesus, the God of the universe, was born in a random place in Bethlehem: not to hide from us, but to be sought out – to be found. We need to have the desire to seek him out because we want to be with him and know him. Advent is meant to be a time when we lift our minds out of the busyness of life and gaze with wonder and joy at God’s love. So, when we pray we need to be still so that we can listen. We can quiet our minds while we sit and wait for Him. We may think it is impossible with the busyness life, but if we don’t make it a priority it won’t happen.
One great place to be still is in front of the Blessed Sacrament, but it can take place anywhere. Wherever it is, before we start saying any of our prayers, we must get rid of anything that can distract us at that time. Put away the phones and put away the to do list. We will get them back when we are done praying. Think at that moment, “I am not alone, God is here. He is going to get my attention for as long as I am praying.” We must be still and allow ourselves to know that we are in the presence of love and anticipate His love before we pray. There is no better way to spend quality time with God than in prayer – personal, heart-to-heart prayer. So this is advent season, let us prepare ourselves to be still and welcome the greatest gift we can give to ourselves, our families, and the world this Christmas: Jesus.