by Linda Veath
Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards ….
~ Song of Solomon 2:15 NIV
If you’ve ever seen the movie Up, then you’ll know how I clean house — just like the dogs fly their fighter airplanes in the movie (yes, really!), fierce and on target until a squirrel distracts them. Then it’s “Ooh! Squirrel!’ and off they go — after the squirrel rather than the intended target. As much as I hate to admit it, that is definitely the way I clean house.
What I hate to admit even more is that my prayer life is all too often like that. I’m determined to keep my thoughts on the Lord and then an “Ooh! Squirrel!” pops into my mind and there goes my prayer.
Just like foxes can ruin vineyards, “Ooh! Squirrels!” can ruin our prayer life. Don’t forget to make that grocery list. How dare her say that to me! Where is the money for the car repair going to come from? My spouse wants a divorce after all these years? Did I turn the light off in the bathroom?
My mind zigs and zags until the “Ooh! Squirrels!” have me so confused I just give up trying to pray and get on with my day. Defeated once again.
Over the course of time, I’ve read many good suggestions for keeping thoughts trained on the Lord during prayer. Praying out loud. Writing prayers down. Praying in a quiet, secluded place. Getting up early when we are mentally sharper. (Well, some of us anyway : ) Kneeling by our beds at night rather than lying down to pray. Making note of the distractions for follow up later. Or simply making that distraction a part of our prayer.
As good as these suggestions are, the “Ooh! Squirrels!” can still play havoc with our concentration during prayer time. But, praise the Lord, they never play havoc with God’s concentration on us! He is always there, waiting for our prayers, longing to hear AND answer them. He doesn’t judge how eloquent or how long or how organized they are.
In fact, God loves us so much that He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in us and pray for us when words don’t come. And to give us the strength to catch the “Ooh! Squirrels!” that try to ruin our prayer life and keep us from Him.
Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to dust … Ooh! Squirrel!