Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mindfulness

We often think of prayer as an event. As a moment in which we get down on our knees and begin to talk to God. We consider it to have a definitive beginning, and very concrete end. It starts when He comes on our mind, and it ends when we've finished our petitions, blessings, praises and even worship. Is that all there is to prayer though? Could it not be much, much more?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing. In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all.

Colossians 3:22-24 - Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

These two verses give us an interesting look at mindfulness. Mindfulness is an ancient concept that simply means to be aware. It means that in every action, every thought, we are completely aware of what we are doing and we are paying attention. By being aware of what we are doing, we can also be aware of why we are doing it. As Christians we are supposed to pray without ceasing. How can we do that? We've got to stop to wash the dishes, or for that business meeting at work, or do we?

Prayer is not just something that happens when we start 'talking' to God. It can also be doing something. We can turn even the most mundane of tasks into a prayer. A prayer of thanksgiving, a prayer of praise! As Christians we are called to live a life of faith. That is a life that shows what we believe. Do we do a good job of that? One of the Psalms tells us “The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” -Psalm 24:1

Do we show people that we truly believe everything in the world is God's? Our actions could do just that, and we could show God that we believe what we profess. How often do you consider the dishes God's? I know that in my personal experience if I was using something of infinite value, I'd take better care when washing them. I'd spend more time making sure they were truly clean, and then stacking them in a nice neat fashion. Often times in our own homes we don't put as much effort into things as we would if it were someone else's. In fact, when we visit someone else and we are in their home, we often go the 'extra mile' to make sure that things are done right. How often have you spent the night somewhere and made the bed when you got up? Yet at home often we only do that when we have company coming, and sometimes for that we just shut the bedroom door.

How about that business meeting? How often do we go into a meeting or into a classroom and sit day dreaming and staring out the window, completely uninterested in what is actually happening. Sure we pay a little bit of attention, maybe even take down some notes or contribute once in a while. How would we act instead if Jesus were teaching that class or running the meeting? We would be completely different people, hanging on every word. Even if He were just sitting in the meeting, we'd likely not gossip with our friend or goof of texting someone while His gaze were upon us.

Yet isn't that exactly what we profess to believe? That God is omnipresent? That He is always with us, even unto the ends of the earth? By being aware of what we are doing, and that we ARE doing it for God, we can turn every task into a moment of prayer. We can hoe our garden and do it well, not cutting corners or putting it off till later; all because we know it's not really ours. We are just borrowing it from the Master until He comes again, or till He deems someone else to tend it.

So be mindful. Pray with your mouth for it is good and just. But also pray with your entire being. With every thought you control. With every action you perform. With every job, every song, and every breath, praise the Lord!

In Christ,
Brian