I just got an invitation to our church’s second annual “Pray First” breakfast. This time last year I took a look at my prayer life. Yes, I had made significant progress, but, was I praying first?? I wanted to! So often I found myself in the evening, worn down from all of the NEEDS and distractions, and messes. Thankful for the exhausted quiet that permeated the house. And lamenting every poor word choice, missed opportunity with the kids, and things I didn’t accomplish. When I stumbled, exhausted, into our bedroom, listening to Hubby’s rhythmic snores and the static of the baby monitor… I’d finally pray. And because this was the first time today, it took awhile! And because it was the first time today, half of my prayer was confession of every thing I did wrong that day. And begging for help for the next! So, was there room for improvement? Boy Howdy!!
But what does that look like? Realistically? Let me paint you a word picture.
I was blessed with two boys, who since crossing the threshold as squalling, wrinkled infants subscribed to the whole “early bird catches the worm” nonsense. I place the blame for this affliction squarely on Hubby’s broad shoulders. His mother confessed (after we were safely married) that until puberty Hubby also had the bizarre notion to rise with the sun. Now, our amazing daughter and I would happily stumble into our day at a much more reasonable hour, like lunch time.
So,even though I’m routinely woken up by a demanding toddler at the indecent hour of 5 a.m., this does not mean my brain is actually functioning. It goes something like this.
5 – Retrieve toddler, three “favorite” blankies and try to convince him to watch cartoons in my bed and stay quiet. Retrieve waffle. Retrieve milk. Change soggy diaper.
6 – Oldest boy wakes up. Send him to try matching again (also Hubby’s affliction). Sign folder. REMIND. Wash face, with soap. Brush teeth. Try again. Put deodorant on. Help him find socks, that match. Violin. Kindle. Coat. Eat your breakfast!! Out the door!
7 – Wake up sleepy daughter.Repeat basic procedure minus the matching difficulties and add in time for the four feet of hair. Dress uncooperative toddler. Retrieve a dozen toys he needs to bring with.
8 – Out the door!
8:10 – Send daughter back in for her backpack.
8:15 – Everyone is strapped into their seats!
This is it! I close the passenger door, brain is functioning, I breathe that sigh of relief. If you’re a parent, you know the one. When they’re all buckled in and no one can escape and it’s QUIET!
Before I get in I realize, this is my moment! I stand shivering in the cold, watching my breathe come out in little white wisps of winter air and look at the sun He has given me today. I close my eyes and thank Him for car restraints, for helping me through a morning of chaos in which I’ve done nothing they’ll later pour out on a therapist’s couch, for the opportunity to care for this crazy family He’s given me. And ask for His guidance for the rest of the day, etc. At this point the natives are restless and a squabble is starting. Renewed, I get in the van, explain that Mommy needed a minute with Jesus, and tell them to turn on the Veggie Tales!
A funny thing happens when I “start” my day this way. During the ride to school I’m singing, out loud (much to their dismay), songs of worship instead of mentally going over my list for the day. I get home and take advantage of Sesame Street and take a shower. But instead of rushing through my routine, to get to my chores, I take the time to put on the armor of God.
This small amount of scripture, given to me at a Dwelling Place meeting at church, has helped ground me in His Word more mornings than not.
Sporadically throughout the day, when I’m counting backwards from ten for the tenth time, when I open that enormous unexpected medical bill, when I get that phone call, that threatens to send me into waves of anxiety and fear I am slowly remembering to stop and pray first. Do I do this perfectly? Not even close. But when I do, I’m rewarded with the reminder that I am not alone. That this place is not my home. That He will use all of this and make it good! And my thoughts are centered not on myself, but on the One who made me. Thank you Jesus!!
Someday. Someday when these whirlwind mornings become a thing of the past, I will miss it. Someday when I no longer need sheets of paper in my bathroom with life sustaining scripture just to catch a few minutes of His Word, or a broken piece of Alibaster jar in my purse to remind me who I’ve surrendered my whole mess to, or a blue bracelet on to remind me to believe Him, and I pass into that next phase I can’t wait to see how my prayer life grows!
Until then, I will continue to hunger and thirst for every drop of Truth and Love and Light He gives me, in whichever form I need to do it. Standing outside my van, at my bathroom sink, digging through my purse, at my kitchen counter, and be so very thankful that He continues to meet me where I am, as I am.
Do you pray first? And what does that look like for you?