One of the “hats” I have worn in my life was working at a flower shop as a florist. It was a small shop and I performed a multitude of duties, ranging from processing and cleaning the flowers, creating and selling floral arrangements, and delivering the finished product. I was surrounded by flowers, all day and every day.
At first, I was overwhelmed by the mix of floral fragrance. Every inhalation brought a dizzying mix of roses, daisies, and lilies. but, after I had been on staff for about six months, I noticed that the flowers had lost their scent; the only flowers I could still smell were the especially strong ones, like stargazer lilies and gardenias.
My co-workers explained it was one of the hazards of the job. Gradually, we lose our ability to recognize the scents we smell on a daily basis, much as a smoker can’t detect the odor of cigarette smoke on their clothing. I had lost my ability to smell flowers.
Just as my job in the flower shop dulled my sense of smell, without my even noticing it was leaving, there are things in our daily life that can dull our senses to God. It doesn’t even have to be a “bad” thing to dull our senses. Life’s busyness, electronic media, demands of a job and family, interpersonal struggles, and life in general can slowly erode our connectivity with our Creator. Life becomes a tiring race to the grave, instead of the exciting journey that He wants for us.
Prayer, that constant connection to our life-force, is critical for our spiritual health. REAL prayer, not a chanted rote-memory verse from childhood, rattled off out of guilt or a feeling of obligation, is the key to revitalizing our God-sense.
We need to be intentional about connecting with God in prayer and make it a priority in our life. We need to create a period of silence in our life to accomplish that. Silence is an avenue to being with God.
Unplug from your electronic devices! Turn off the pager, cell phone, iPod, computer, television, and radio. Create a “digital-free zone.” Let the answering machine take a message! Cultivate a quiet place to help you focus on God. A pastor I know has his quiet time while sitting in his parked truck in his garage. Another friend does her quiet time in her bedroom closet. And, Susanna Wesley is said to have carved out her personal quiet time with God by sitting with her long apron flipped up over her head amidst her ten children.
Keep a journal or a notepad handy. As you embrace the silence, your brain will start remembering things you need to act on, distracting your concentration. You will suddenly remember that you need to phone the appliance repairman, schedule the babysitter, or pick up the dry cleaning! Jot these down on your notepad and let them go until after your time with God.
You may also find yourself beginning to mentally stew about an emotional issue, such as a fight you had with your mother, a disagreement with your spouse or co-worker, or your frustration over hurt feelings from slight by a friend. Share these with God. Pour your heart out to Him. I keep a journal where God and I work through these kinds of struggles. He is faithful! As I write out my hurts and frustrations, He brings encouragement, answers, and direction.
There is no “formula” for connecting with the Almighty. As a new believer, I was told that I needed to keep a prayer list and had to pray through it every day for at least thirty minutes a day. Because of my lack of experience, it beams a duty of list recitation instead of a time of bringing my heart-felt requests to Heaven’s throne room. I couldn’t wait for the timer to buzz, releasing me from my obligation for another day.
That is NOT the relationship that God wants from us. Our prayers are more than recited grocery lists of wants; he desires fellowship with us. It is a privilege to voice our concerns, our praises, our thanksgiving, and sit in His presence in spiritual communion with Him.
Talk to Him about what is really on your heart! Don’t turn this time into an exercise of fancy-sounding religiosity, but use it for what it truly is: a time of connecting with your Father. Unplug from the noise around you, re-tune your senses, and drink in the aroma of God’s presence.
“Be still and know that I am God;” Psalm 46:10