Captive or captivated? (Part 1)

Do you ever feel that as you sit down to do business with God your attention – both mental and emotional – starts acting like a fugitive on the run? Before we know it our hearts and minds have identified all the possible exits and are just waiting for our vigilance to waver. Which doesn’t take long!

I have alluded to this imagery before as I ‘Pilfered On Prayer’ (- see post from 16th February 2016) quoting Flannery O’Connor who wrote:

“I do not mean to deny the traditional prayers I have said all my life; but I have been saying them and not feeling them. My attention is always fugitive.”* 

 * ‘Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller.’

It seems to me that we need to have a dual strategy in keeping our attention on the Lord and meeting with him. We need to be better captors – practically working out what habits and patterns will reduce the number of exits available AND we need to ask the Lord to captivate our hearts and minds gripping them with his beauty. As has been said by others more eloquently than me we need to travel through duty to delight.

Have you ever had to wrestle with a toddler, restraining them, dragging their attention and desires away from something else IN ORDER for them to see or taste or receive something fantastic? Once you have ‘got’ them the idea of restraint becomes almost ridiculous, insulting even given the prize they now have.

So what wrestling needs to happen with me? How can I be a better captor? I long to be because, by God’s grace, I have had glimpses of what it is to be with him – I know how stupid it is that I even need to speak in these terms, but I also know what I am like and I would rather be ridiculously restrained to see the face of Christ than a free fugitive running away from him.

Having now finished Tim Keller’s excellent book on Prayer (see reference above) I have lots of plans and lists (I want to say cunning plans and clever tricks!) – but only because I have lots of longing to be more and more captivated and transfixed by my beautiful Lord.

Dear Father God, please may I find the world a troublesome distraction from gazing at you, rather than having to tear myself away from it to grudgingly give you a few minutes. In Jesus name, Amen.

To be continued…

 

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