There’s something about staring at a blank page that’s like prayer. I don’t know what words to put on paper, and so I stare at the white space and blinking cursor, practically asking it what I should write. But the more I stare, the more focused on the white space I become, and my mind goes blank. It’s happened to me in prayer before.
“God, what should I do? What’s my next move? What should I do in x situation?”
And then I listen to what seems deafening silence. Pretty soon, that ringing in my ears fills the silence. And then it gets annoying, and I talk some more to cover the sound.
How does one hear the voice of God? I struggled with this a lot in my late teen years and through college. I still struggle with it. When your mind is so busy, it’s hard to tune out all the noise or pay attention to anything other than the blank “white space.” My prayer sessions were a one-way radio. A monologue. There I was at my Shakespearean best, talking to God, asking questions, answering my own questions, getting distracted by my own ramblings, and then my time expired, and it was time to move onto the next scene.
Then, a few years ago, I heard a friend of mine say something so simple and obvious at the right moment that made the concept of talking to God finally click in my mind.
“It’s a relationship.”
Well, duh, Caitie. It was a lightbulb moment that came as I had become burnt out with college and needed direction in my life. In those moments, you need to hear God’s direction for you. My friend continued.
“I talk to God throughout my day, whether it’s in my car or walking down the hall at school or work or wherever. If I get up late and rush around for work, I’ll make sure I talk to God on the way to work.”
As she spoke, I mulled over the concept. It’s not about trying to “fit” God in. It’s a relationship. How did I get so close to my sister or others in my life? Constant communication. A two-way radio. A dialogue. If I could do that with my family and friends, then I could establish a relationship with God.
I’m a scientific person. Processes, research, hypotheses, formulas—they’re how I take in and understand information. Tell me how something’s done, and I’ll review the process and make plans for implementation. So, I applied the concept of taking time to create a real relationship with God. I began to see my time with God as an opportunity to get to know Him. The results of my actions led to an obvious conclusion that I needed to reach in order to fully understand—the more time I spent with God, truly seeking Him, the more I began to understand what His Presence feels like and how to listen for His voice. A novel concept, I know, but sometimes, your mind gets so hectic that it’s difficult to understand concepts that come naturally to others (like clearing your mind to focus on God during prayer).
I still have my bad days—days during which I’ve let my brain scream at me for hours on end that by the time I sit down to pray, all I hear is a bunch of pots and pans banging around in my skull and then white space—but I also have good days. Those are the days when I’ve prioritized my time wisely, let my mind focus on things above, and went to God with a genuine desire to hear from Him and feel His Presence. Those are the days I feel I’m making progress, getting to know Him more, becoming a little more of the person I need to be. Those are the days I try to remember on the bad days to inspire me to make more days like those days. Those are the days when I get done with prayer and realize how much time has passed as I’ve prayed, and I’m amazed.
It’s like looking back at the beginning of the first page when you began writing and seeing how much you filled the white space. You get lost in the moment, and before you know it, you find the exact words to say, and you know exactly what you’re supposed to do. You’ve connected, and suddenly the white space and deafening silence doesn’t seem so intimidating anymore because you know when you begin the next time, you’ll tune in to the right frequency if you persist. After all, “…the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16, KJV).