Jabreman: I would love to gain (even!) more inspiration from you about how you use your prayer life (specifically your time in prayer) to hold yourself together. I am always wanting to learn from others about how they structure or don't structure their prayer lives.
I have been pondering that one. How to explain? And along with that comment, my mind still swirls with what a very sweet lady asked me soon after we got home with Katya. She was visiting our church and curious about Katya and our story with her. After I shared a little with her, she asked me with great sincerety, "What is the secret that God does so many miracles for you? We have talked for only a short time, yet you have shared many amazing things with me. Do you spend a certain amount of time fasting and praying each week, or what do you do that God moves for you like that?"
No, I don't fast every week. Or even every month. Severe issues with hypoglycemia taught me long ago that it was a bad idea for me. A partial fast, yes, perhaps, but not an entire fast. Do I spend hours on my knees in prayer every week? Nope. The fact that I have trouble passing out when I get up from kneeling down (along with a very painful and bad knee) means I don't kneel to pray generally.
I long ago realized that what was portrayed to me as the correct way to stay in touch with God wasn't working for me. I couldn't remain focused to pray for 30 solid minutes generally, let alone an hour. Maybe that is to my shame, I don't know. But it wasn't working for me. If I had peace and quiet to sit and write out my prayers, I could do that. Or if I could go walk and pray. Otherwise, it was a wash-out.
As more children were added to my family and my demands as a Mother became greater, I struggled. What was God's plan for me in all of this? What was God's will for ME? How could I sort out what I had been taught as a child was "God's will" and "The One Right Way" versus what worked for me in a practical way, and freed me to worship God joyfully, rather than never measuring up to The One Right Way so that I always drug around with a load of shame and guilt?
Gradually, I began to realize that honestly, the best place for me to worship God and pray was when I was out running errands as I drove alone down the road. And I began to realize that what worked best for me was to simply keep my heart focused on God all day long, not "set aside" a mandated hour or 30 minutes or whatever. Old messages from the past would hit me--"You need to treat God like you do your best friend." "Talking with God and spending time in His Word should be more important to you than eating. If you didn't read God's Word and Pray you have no business getting physical food." On and on the messages from my childhood and youth and young adult hood would bombard me.
With time, I began to realize that when I kept my focus on God from the time I opened my eyes till I closed them in sleep at night, took what time I could each day in short bursts to speak with Him AND to listen to Him speak to me, and learned to listen as constantly as I could to His voice, that was when I grew spiritually, and when I felt nutured and protected. God's peace could fill me. No longer did I need to writhe in shame and guilt for not measuring up to what I had been taught was the standard for Christians. Listening to Christian music when I am moving around the house is very important to me as well, and generally happens at least once each day for a good while, soaking my heart and mind with the messages of God.
I began to realize that my relationship with God was very like my relationship with my husband, Paul. Paul's work means that he is often away from home for long periods of time. There can be 24 to 48 hour periods where if we are fortunate, we speak to each other only 2 or 3 times in short bursts of 2 or 3 minutes max. We learn to speak quickly, and address what is most important in that time. It doesn't mean that we don't love each other, nor that we aren't tuned in to each other mentally and emotionally. But practically, there isn't time for more than short, focused bursts of speech. We hit what is most important, and keep on going. When we have time, we connect for longer at a more leaisurely pace.
Realizing that our earthly relationship was not so very different from my spiritual relationship in some ways brought me additional discernment on how my "strange" relationship with God could work.
While some may challenge how my relationship with God works, I find it working for me at this season in my life. I love God passionately, and I'm grateful that He knows that, even if I don't spend hours reading His Word and praying each day. I am happy for those who can and do. And I hope some day to find my way back to "more". But for now, I'm thankful that God hears me in my short little prayers as I run around each day. I'm grateful that He speaks to me all day long in various ways as my best friend.
As to why God has done so many miracles in our family's life? I honestly can't say. I'm just grateful that He has, and that He does. But it's not due to any special formula, that is for certain and sure! And while we have plenty of miracles and good things, our family has known it's share of very tough and bitter times in life as well, so we are "normal" and "human".
Speaking of miracles . . . I never get tired of looking at this sweet one!
Nor my other 4 miracles . . . gifts from God, every one of them.