My last couple posts have been about public prayer. It’s easy to see why my fellow neurotics feel self-conscious praying in front of other people–it doesn’t take much imagination to assume everyone is scrutinizing us.
But that doesn’t explain why I feel self-conscious about quiet time.
For those not in the know, “quiet time” is just daily Bible-reading and private prayer. Because there aren’t other people around, you’d think I’d be able to pray in peace.
I can’t. I’m really bad at it.
Don’t worry: this post won’t spiral into some carnival of self-loathing. Remember the theme of my “Neurotic’s Guide to Prayer” series:
We’re all in this together.
So I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s bad at quiet time.
I thought about giving bullet points speculating why I’m bad at quiet time. But they just turned into pseudo-pious humble brags. Example: I’m bad at quiet time because I’m hyper aware of my insignificance before God. It’s okay to roll your eyes.
So I’m not going to speculate on why I’m so bad at prayer. You’re free to assume anything from super humility to simply laziness.
Without further ado, here’s a log of my typical quiet time:
7:00 Sit in patio chair, take deep breath.
7:01-7:05 Bow chin, hold face in hands, try mustering the most contrite feelings possible. Also pick at hangnail.
7:06-7:08 Thank God for “this day.” Confess all the usual sins: pride, laziness, anxiety, envy, lack of faith, envy, anxiety, laziness…what was that last one? Pride.
7:08-7:12 Wonder if Peyton Manning is healthy enough to last another season.
7:13 Realize I’ve been thinking about Peyton Manning. Repent immediately.
7:14-7:16 Ask God to give “strength for this day” five different times, stopping to think about Mountain Dew commercials in between.
7:17-7:20 Repeat the phrase “Please help me today, dear Lord” until it loses all meaning.
7:21-7:25 Try pinpointing the moment when The Simpsons jumped the shark1.
7:26-7:28 Feel bad about daydreaming, and ask for forgiveness at least ten times, trying to connote as much penitence as possible. Beat chest softly for extra effect.
7:29 Realize time is running out before work. Mind burning, try squeezing all remaining prayers into the final breath: “Please be with Danielle and Sam and mom and dad and also my brothers and Grandma and Grandpa and please guide me in my life and help me to make good decisions and to be wise and help my work to go well and help me to work hard and not to be lazy or anxious and please oh please forgive me for my sins and my distraction and my lack of love and lack of faith and please oh please be with me dear Jesus. Oh, and please help AIDS in Africa.”
7:30 Say Amen. Slink away from patio.
If my theory is right, you can sympathize with me. If my theory’s wrong, it’s still okay. In my next post, I’ll try to tie all my confessions into something worthwhile2.
Anybody else have some quiet time confessions?
1 For the record, it’s season 11, episode 14. When Maude fell off the bleachers, the show died with her.
2 That was actually a rejected tagline for this blog: Trying to be Worthwhile.
Photo by Mary Smyth