I usually begin each day with prayer. I am an early riser, and after I have a cup of coffee and do a little reading, I simply sit in silence with God for 20 to 30 minutes. The Gospel of John tells us over and over again that God has promised to be with us; that he will not leave us “orphaned” (John 13.18). According to John, the Word really has become flesh and taken up residence in our lives. We are the temple, the ark, the dwelling place of God. The promise of scripture is that God is with me, and my prayer time is about being aware of that.
But this prayer time is also about something else: it is about the “me” that I bring to God. When I pray, who do I bring to God? Do I bring to God in these few minutes who I really am, or do I bring an impostor? Therefore, before I just try to sit in silence and be aware of God, I begin the periods of prayer by saying a few words to God. What I realized a few years ago was that I usually wasn’t honest with God. I would often begin periods of prayer by expressing thanks when I really didn’t feel very grateful. On other days, I would cover up my negative feelings with words of praise. I realized that I was often in denial about what I was really feeling at that moment. What I have discovered is that in this respect my relationship with God is no different than a relationship with another human being. If I want to deepen my relationship with God—really let God into my life; I need to tell God what is really going on. Some days I wake up excited about the prospects of that day. I look forward to seeing certain people and doing certain things. On such a morning I need to thank God profusely for what lies ahead. On other days, I may be aware that the demands of that day seem overwhelming. On those mornings will I ask God for help, or acknowledge that I would just simply prefer to go back to sleep and avoid the whole thing. After my father died a few years ago, I spent several months in a fog. One morning I just said, “OK enough of this grief crap, I want to move on. Do something!”
When we reveal more of who we are to God, we let God in. This doesn’t mean that God then solves all our problems, but we discover that we aren’t alone. The gift is not a carefree life, but a deeper connection. And when we discover a deeper connection-- that we are not alone-- we also discover that we have what we need to live each day.