Anyone driving by me, saw someone taking a leisurely walk. They had no way of knowing what I was really doing - walking in prayer.
I used to think prayer was a head down, eyes closed, solemn occasion. Then, one day, I looked up and found myself in a moment of prayer. It was a simple 'Thank You'. I wasn't bringing a problem to God. I was offering up gratitude - head up - eyes open - heart light.
Since that time, my prayers have become shorter. Their frequency, however, has multiplied tenfold.
I can't close my eyes and pray while I'm driving, but I can turn off the radio and have a prayerful conversation with my Creator. I can pray while I'm walking, exercising, standing in a long line or doing work around the house.
I no longer connect and plug-in to God at a certain time and place once a day. I engage in a ongoing conversation with Him all day long, about all aspects of my life.
I don't have to go running to Him every time something goes wrong if I don't run away when everything is going right.
The less I talk, the more I listen. Shorter prayers allow me to carry on a real conversation - both talking and listening. Answers aren't drowned out by the sound of my own voice, or worse, a running commentary of worry in my head. "Did He hear me? Will He answer? Is He there?"
He hears, He answers, He's there - always. There's no need to ask those questions again and again and again - simply more time to listen and learn and see.
The more I listen, the more I see. Where once I would do down on bended knees and ask God to reveal His fingerprint in my life, I now see whole handprints. They're everywhere - in all of life.
A solemn occasion calls for solemn prayer, and it still has an absolute place in my life, but I believe I'm supposed to be happy about being here, not grim and somber every time I want to talk to God. I'm excited about having the gift of life.
I don't know all the answers. I don't know what the future holds. I can't see the big picture. But I'm excited about walking through it all with the One who does.
The strength of my belief won't allow my face to tighten into a permanent look that says, "Faith is a serious business and if I mean business I better look serious about it."
I simply can't.
One day I opened my eyes, looked up, and experienced an awesome occasion of prayer. A short while later I read John 17, which begins:
"Jesus said these things. Then, raising His eyes in prayer...."
There was no turning back after that.