Probably no one likes, “going through the motions.” The phrase means doing something for which we should feel some passion but don’t. This can happen to us at work, in our friendships, in our family, and certainly in our relationship with God. A similar phrase is to say of someone, “it seems like they are just phoning it in.” That means that she or he may be doing their job, but with little heart or creativity. No one can always be passionate, but I have often wondered if there wasn’t something we could do to guard against this happening in our relationship with God. The following verse got me thinking about this early this morning:
Proverbs 28:5 Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely.
There's a phrase in there that caught me up short. I lingered on the text to ask this: what does it mean to seek the Lord? I mean really? It’s possible for us to say we are seeking God when in reality we aren’t. On the other hand, If you show up for your appointed time of meeting with God, by showing up you are praying you will have a powerful experience with God. In that sense, you are seeking him even if you don’t sense any passion. But in the moment of prayer itself, there are times when I am passionately seeking God and then others when I'm not. Emotionally and spiritually there are times when I'm just phoning it in.
It is God’s grace to us when we open scripture, pray, or worship and we experience a powerful desire for God. I'm convinced that can’t be programmed. But here a few ways that may move us toward a greater experience of God:
- Show up on time for the meeting and allow adequate time for it. We can’t encounter God in a hurry. We have to make time to be with him.
- Begin by praying something like this: "I am here Lord because I want to seek you and I need you. But right now my heart has not caught up with my head. I know I don't depend on my feelings and yet Lord I do long to feel passion and hunger for you.
- Reflect deeply on scripture. Usually our best praying will come as a result of our hearts being tuned by a passage of scripture.