Good morning, peeps!
“Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you.” – Psalm 51:16 MSG
Every weekday morning, I meet God in prayer. Monday through Friday. At 3:30 a.m.
I have two alarms set on my phone. Yes, I use my phone as my alarm clock even though I have a digital one on my nightstand. Like I said, I have two alarms on it: one for 3:30 a.m. and one for 4:00 a.m. Every weekday morning, I get up at 3:30 to meet with God in prayer. I pray over my family, friends, and this blog. After that, I get all the way up and start typing this blog. The 4:00 a.m. alarm is set just in case something goes awry first thing in the morning.
I have been known to fall asleep during prayer.
The first church I belonged to was held in a little building that used to be a small neighborhood store. If you are wondering, this is where the term “storefront church” came from. Most new pastors could not afford to rent large buildings so sometimes church services were held in old stores or even in the living room of their homes. Actually, that was how my church membership began. I just thought of that. We went to someone’s house. Oh my goodness. I remember folding chairs being lined up in the living room and having to babysit the pastor’s kids while service was going on. I was just a kid myself! Ha! I don’t know why they even bothered to put chairs out because people were eventually going to knock them over when they “caught the Holy Ghost”. Those services lasted for HOURS. It was also there that I got burned on my leg and still have the scar to this day. Aaaaand, that has nothing to do with…never mind. Back to the storefront and me falling asleep during prayer.
(I was 6, so cut me some slack.)
At the beginning of the service, there was prayer time. This was when we knelt at the altar and cried out to God, asking for forgiveness and for His way to be had in the service. This was really for the adults – most of the kids knelt at their seat, if at all. Not us. Noooo. My dad made it known that his chil’ren were going to be the examples for all. Take note: Bro. James’ kids are serious about obeying God. Well, one night, I got a little too serious. Everything started out great as I went into my routine prayer: first, say the Lord’s Prayer; second, confess whatever sinful thing my six-year-old self had done that day; third, thank God for not putting an axe to the roots of my fruitless 6-year-old tree and fourth, ask God to have His way in the service. I prayed the same thing every time I went to church, which was seven days a week – twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday. That’s how it started, but that’s not how it ended. One minute I’m hearing the entire church praying and the next thing I knew, I was hearing the preacher reading Scripture.
I had fallen asleep. At the altar.
Do you know how embarrassing that was?! The first thing I did was feel down the front of my skirt to make sure I hadn’t pee’d on myself in my sleep. This was big issue at the time. I hadn’t. God is good! The next thing I did was peek underneath my arm at the congregation. Yep, they were all seated and looking at me right then because I was fidgeting. So I had to make a choice: stay at the altar the entire service and pretend I’m still in prayer or get up and walk to my seat. I decided on the latter because my legs were getting numb. I get it. It’s funny. You can laugh. I’m sure I looked a bit disheveled because when I go to sleep, I sleep. I had slobber on my cheek and my face had the imprint of my sleeve on it. So that was funny. I expected a few chuckles. What I didn’t expect was to be shamed for it. “Well, I guess Deone was really praying hard!” That’s what the preacher said and the entire congregation laughed. Loudly. Well, everyone except my dad. He was ticked off.
It’s funny the kind of stuff that sticks with you.
God brought this to my mind this morning as I struggled to get past that 3:30 alarm. Oh, we met. And that’s all we did. We met. I looked at Him and He looked at me and we both were like, “Wassup?” My spirit mumbled “Idunno” and I started into my routine prayer. The next thing I know, I’m hearing the 4 o’clock alarm go off. What?? I fell asleep?? You’ve got to be kidding me! So Imma start over, God, because I really need to invite Holy Spirit in so I can write this blog! Okay. So Lord, I thank You for this… And then I stopped. I didn’t stop on my own though. I was stopped. By one word: routine.
I’ve been going through the motions.
God brought the above scripture to me as I began apologizing to Him for falling asleep during prayer. He didn’t care about that. He knew I was tired. He’s actually been getting on me about being overextended. Sleep. Get some rest. What He doesn’t want is for me to be going through the motions when I talk to Him. He wants a real conversation. Real dialog and not some canned prayer. What I have been doing is doing me more harm than good. I’m just going through the motions. Did you know that because brushing teeth is taught to us as children and repeated so often, day in and day out for years and years, the habit becomes so ingrained that we very rarely ever think about the process until a problem arises? We just do it. Most times, wrong.
This is a relationship. Who wants someone who’s just going through the motions?
I have a friend and each morning we send a “good morning” text: they do one day and I do the next. I don’t know how it is on their end, but on my mine…man. Those two words may as well be two pieces of old bathroom sponge: they are dry and worn out. But I do it because I don’t want them to think I’m being funky. Look, I don’t always feel good-morningly and sometimes (pray for me) I don’t actually care if they are having a good one. I just do it. It’s become a routine. I’m just going through the motions. So last night, I was like “this is some garbage” and told them not to feel obligated to send that text. Do it if you want to, but what I really want is genuine interaction. And it’s okay if you don’t feel like interacting with me every day. We’re still good. The look of relief that was on their face! It was like I had given them the green light to just be in this relationship.
Just be. Isn’t that what “Press” was all about?
I know the Press series was all about my life, but I hope that you were able to glean some things from it for yours. Maybe it spurred an examination of what’s been going on with you and how seemingly little things in your past have had a huge impact on your now. Let it end with your “now” and not carry on into your future. I want to live free. I want you to live free. I want you to live, period, and not just go through the motions. I hope you think about that this weekend. Shake up your routine. God will understand. Have a great weekend, peeps.