I keep a practice called a daily office, a regular time of prayer, worship, and reflection that is absolutely vital to my spiritual health and growth. Recently, this practice has also become stale and completely ineffective. I focus and I try, but little comes out of it. What do you do when your spiritual efforts are ineffective? You get out of your chair and you step outside your door.
I believe in an amazing God, a Holy Trinity that creates, redeems, and sustains all of creation, including me and my individual soul. This God desires me, is available to me, and promises to answer me if I call. But if I pray and read scripture and feel little stirring in my soul, is God not there? Or is there something wrong with me? Am I doing it wrong? Is this all just a bunch of baloney?
This spiral of negative thinking occurs to many people during their faith journey. Letting go makes you vulnerable, expressing your innermost feelings and desires creates discomfort. So we avoid it. We go through the motions, keep it familiar, don’t rock the boat. We do the same old thing, and if it doesn’t work, whatever.
When you pray well, God takes you in unexpected directions. You dwell on the needs of others more than your own. You see perspective and meaning in new and challenging ways. When you worship well, you root yourself deeply in God, connecting with a saving Christ through an active spirit. If this isn’t happening, you aren’t doing it right, and it’s time to mix it up.
I sat at my desk Tuesday knowing that I could pray better, I could worship better. But my devotionals were worn out and my normal routine wasn’t working. So I stood up and walked out the door.
A few steps outside the church, I passed the YWCA, and I prayed for the women and young children who live and learn there, and the hardworking people who help turn lives around. I circled the library, and gave thanks for this service that blesses my family immensely and gives many in our community a place to belong. I stood at the jail and felt the hearts of thousands. I walked past the local college and gave thanks for the joy of learning in our midst. I sat underneath the courthouse and prayed for the people who seek to guide our city into the future. I passed a thousand people coming and going, walking and driving, working and playing. I walked through a small portion of God’s great world, and I felt my soul grow warm.
Wherever you are today, stand up and walk out the door. Pass through the cubicles of your building and pray for the lives of people around you, share their successes and their sorrows in your heart. Walk through your school and lift up the dreams of all the young people who fill its seats. Pass the driveways in your neighborhood and give thanks for all the people who arrived home safely today, for families that will share a meal together, for moments of well-deserved peace and rest.
Stand up and walk outside your door, and visit a small portion of the great world that waits on the other side.