Looking out my kitchen window, I witness the glory of God on display each day. I am certain that you can say the same thing from wherever you are reading this right now. We know that He is present in all that He created. But sometimes we are too distracted to recognize His handiwork.
Many days, despite my front row seat, I miss out on much of what He wants to show me. From what I hear from many other women, I am not alone.
Distracted by the demands of real life, my focus remains inside my kitchen as I train my eye to all that needs to be done before I leave the house. Counters wiped, crumbs cleared, dishes cleaned. Often, I am so focused on my to-do list that I never notice what God is hoping to reveal. He is cloaked in mystery and my attention span has dwindled down to 280 characters or less, leaving little ability to peek behind the curtain. I check Instagram and like a beautiful sunset with a few words of Scripture splashed across the scene. Ask me 3 minutes later what I just read and I can’t begin to tell you. Sound familiar?
So it is with some irony that I make the connection between birds and my prayer life.
Hummingbirds and Holiness
This summer, there were a number of different birds that perched on the window ledge and flew through our yard. The more common ones like Blue Jays and Mockingbirds did not catch my eye. They seemed ordinary, and I am captivated by novelty.
The enormous Lantana bush out back appeals to Hummingbirds. I was giddy with anticipation upon waking all summer to see if they were back for another day of feasting on the flowers.
Studying the birds, I began to recognize a little of myself in their patterns.
Efficiency and Hard Work…
Hummingbirds are hard workers who move from flower to flower looking for food to sustain their energy levels. They move fast, getting what they need. They get the job done and move on. Hummingbirds are not ones to dilly dally. They are efficient, independent, and dazzled by the next bright thing that catches their eye. They are busy.
Do you see yourself in any part of that description as well?
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…are Futile Without Rest
Many of us cram our schedules full of activities, fearing that we will miss out on fun events or opportunities that fuel our success. We run from sun up to sun down giving, serving, doing. We chair committees, corral children, wipe noses, tie shoes, and just generally attempt to maintain some semblance of control over our otherwise chaotic lives. At some point, we are all hummingbirds.
Too Full, But Not Filled
Our schedules are jam packed with really good activities that are attractive when we pencil them in the clean white calendar pages. We imagine our future selves and feel sure that we will have the energy level of a hummingbird and the desire to accomplish great things when the time comes. We flit from here to there hoping that just one more cup of coffee will help us make it to the finish line after dinner when we can sit down and finally have some quiet time in prayer.
After a day full of flying fast, we are exhausted. But we can’t quite settle our souls to rest. Then we wonder… what is wrong with us?
Or could it be that you are trying to fit your quiet time with the Lord in before the rest of the house wakes up? Each night, you drift off with the best of intentions. All your prayer materials sit right by your favorite chair. Then, you hit the snooze one too many times, because you know, exhaustion, and you end up flying through the morning, yet again, playing catch up and your prayers falls into the cracks and crevices of the day. Each time you pass your favorite chair, you feel defeated because your stack of inspiration is sitting there just gathering dust. One more thing that you have not done as well as you intended.
Connection Must Be Our Top Priority
God loves you. He loves you regardless of your dedication to prayer. But, He is unable to transform you if you are not connected to Him. Prayer is one way that we come to know Him better. Bishop Barron describes prayer as “intimate communion and conversation with God.” Intimacy does not happen quickly. It is built slowly.
At the same time the hummingbirds were zooming here, there, and everywhere, another bird caught my attention. The graceful heron, the slow plodder who stands in silence, observing all around him. He takes measured, easy steps as he scans the water for fish and the horizon for predators. The heron can stand still for long stretches of time and is not disturbed by the wind or a barking dog. At times, you could mistake him for a statue until he moves swiftly snagging a fish unlucky enough to swim by in the shallows.
While there are areas of my life where I can manage being a hummingbird, my prayer life suffers when I fly too fast.
When I am praying in hummingbird mode, I flit from one devotional to another. One great inspirational meme on Instagram to the next. Moving quickly to the next thing on my agenda. I check things off my list, yet don’t do any of them very well. I pop M&M’s as my main source of nourishment because I am just too busy to slow down and eat a proper meal. So much gets my attention for a short time, but not much reaches my heart. Although I claim to love Jesus, when I am flying too fast, I have a hard time loving the people He gives me.
Herons and Holiness
The slow prayer life is more settled and still. Time is spent reading Scripture and allowing the Word to move gently from the page into my heart to quicken my soul. Scanning the horizon allows the Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning of the Word I ponder as He creates connections between what I read and what I see in my day to day life. When stillness and silence appear in my day, I am fueled and ready to respond instead of react. I have the energy to love with His love instead of my own effort. I am at peace.When stillness and silence appear in my day, I am fueled and ready to respond instead of react. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Slowing down to heron pace takes intention and attention and is possible for each and every one of us no matter your current schedule. There are no special tools or resources necessary. Instead of taking on one more obligation, slow prayer mode requires that you set some things aside.
As this new year dawns, consider taking the slow prayer path. Settle in for a few minutes each day giving yourself permission to “waste time” with God. Know that He is love and wants to connect with you every day. Give yourself the gift of slow prayer, a place to slow down and find the rest that your soul craves.
How will you find moments for slow prayer this year?Why Slow Prayer is Necessary #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Katie Kibbe is a mother of two children and author of multiple Scripture Studies for Catholic women including The Spirit of Mary. She writes to encourage women to discover the small steps they can take to experience a vibrant faith, radiant hope, and the unfailing love of Jesus Christ in the midst of the chaos and crazy of everyday life. You can find out more about her here.