Lately due to some really frustrating circumstances, I’ve been experiencing a profound lack of control–no small challenge for a control freak like me. But although I know I need to let go, the letting go is quite another thing.
In Centering prayer, J. David Muyskens writes that we become “keenly perceptive in the rest of life, more deeply conscious of the Creator and all creation. We become aware of God in every moment.” But we do not become aware because of our own doing, of course, our own attention and abilities, but because of God’s faithfulness. Next, Muyskens describes something called an active or breath prayer, a short prayer which expresses a desire to be close to God to be used in moments of utter inattention (jogging, washing dishes, etc.) to the stuff of life. Muyskens’ own prayer is quite simple, but full of intention: “Lord, keep me aware of your presence.”
During my time of silent prayer the other evening, I was filled with the image of a hand guiding me along in the darkness. I so often say it is a luxury for us to see the fruits of our ministry–we don’t always get to, we’re not always meant to. But I, the control freak, have never thought of the luxury it is to experience God’s vision: we don’t always get to, we’re not always meant to, and I found the phrase “Ye of little faith” echoing in my mind.
This phrase comes from Matthew 16 and registers the disciples profound disbelief even after Jesus’s feeding of the four thousand. So does this statement represent God’s disappointment with us? Maybe. Christ’s deep exasperation with our inability to let go? Probably. But I think it also rather plainly represents God’s great vision, God’s faithfulness, and God’s ability to lead.
In the simplicity of the phrase, “God, keep me aware of your presence,” I am invited to wonder what my life might be like if I kept aware, in moments of trouble, and adopted a profound openness to God. When I met with my spiritual director during my time in Princeton she would often remind me of what it would be like to become aware of God’s presence in times of insecurity or doubt, to be fully open and focused on God, not my own worries. It is a simple, but vital step and one that shows me how misplaced my worries really are. Being open to God reminds us that we do not rely on ourselves for faith, but on who God is and will be, to guide us. What little faith God really requires of us, and yet, God continues to provide.