In the busyness of my life, who really has time to pray?
Several weeks ago I sat down with my friend and spiritual mentor Barry Rowan. Though I wouldn’t say I was too busy to pray – especially not to Barry, a giant in the faith compared to me – when the conversation turned to spirituality, that’s what I was thinking.
Since Barry is the CFO of a publicly traded company, I’m always wanting to talk business. Turn arounds, strategies, stock price, leadership. Yet he continually takes the conversation back to a moment-by-moment relationship with Christ.
“My spiritual director shared with me a practice that I’ve found very helpful,” Barry said. “And it centers on the concept of awareness. The first step in this prayer is easy: (1) Recognize that Jesus is aware of you in this moment.”
Awareness. Interesting thought. One of my unspoken barriers to prayer is that Jesus is high, far off, and mighty – and that I need to get in the right room, position, or posture to pray. But the truth is that Jesus, who is with us to the very end of the age, is aware of me right now. At a computer. On the way to the bathroom. In a meeting. In the car. Putting on my socks. That means he’s aware of my body, my feelings, and my innermost thoughts.
“From there,” Barry continued, “simply do this: (2) Say to him one thing that’s important to you.” For example, it could be an email you’re waiting on from a prospective client, the stress of your kids not listening to you, or the pain of an ongoing addiction. It could be anything. But it makes sense: if Jesus is aware of me right now, the first step in a simple conversation between friends would be to share one thing that’s important to me.
“Finally, after you’ve done this,” Barry said, “(3) Listen for one thing that’s important to Jesus that He wants you to know. As I started to apply this to my own work day, this final step was surprisingly easy. “Trust me. I will provide,” was the answer I got to a lot of my own worries about money. I also felt like Scripture would pop into my mind from my time reading the Bible in the morning. “I am with you. Don’t be afraid. Bring your anxiety to me and I will give you peace.”
I’m just starting to practice the Prayer of Awareness. But there’s two reasons why I’m hopeful that this practice can grow my relationship with Christ:
1. It only takes about 15 seconds. I can do it while pumping gas, dazing off on a conference call, or after a conflict with my wife. It works just as well walking to the bathroom at work as it does at home with my kids.
2. It doesn’t require much holiness! Just honesty. Christ is aware of me right now, in this moment. I don’t have to do some kind of elaborate preparation for prayer nor find just the right words to pray. (Often, when I pray in groups, to be honest, half of it is prayer. The other half is performance for others in the room.)
As I type this article, he sees, listens, and cares for me. Because this is true, I can share simply what’s important to me, and listen for what’s important to him, as anybody would do with a friend.
If you decide to practice this prayer this week, I’d like to hear from you. Contact me with your story, and, with your permission, I’ll share it here.
Jeff Haanen is a writer and entrepreneur. He founded Denver Institute for Faith & Work, a community of conveners, teachers and learners offering experiences and educational resources on the gospel, work, and community renewal. He is the author of An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life and an upcoming two-book series on spiritual formation, vocation, and the working class for Intervarsity Press. He lives with his wife and four daughters in Denver and attends Wellspring Church in Englewood, Colorado.