A few months ago I stumbled across a snippet of advice that became transformational in an unexpected way.
When the deluge of information about COVID-19 first hit, including the instruction for frequent hand-washing, someone on Facebook suggested praying the Lord’s Prayer while washing our hands.
The idea stuck with me since I work as a nurse and wash my hands many, many times in the course of my twelve hour shift. In nursing school we were taught to sing a song in our minds like “Happy Birthday” to make sure we scrubbed for at least 20-30 seconds. Praying the Lord’s Prayer appealed to me much more.
The first few times I stood with soapy hands at the sink, I watched the clock on the wall to time my words just right.
But I soon forgot about timing as the age-old words soaked into my mind in all their beauty and grace. How could anyone rush through such a rich prayer?
As the weeks passed, I began noticing different things in the prayer that I hadn’t really noticed before. I read a simple devotional study by N.T. Wright on the Lord’s Prayer. The things Wright talked about connected with the things I was already noticing.
I realized that Jesus was the first one to so freely call God his Father. The Old Testament refers to God as a Father a few times, but not often. Jesus changed that and modeled an intimacy not known before.
That intimacy included a sense of God’s nearness. We tend to think of Heaven as a far-off place swirled in mist and mystery. But God is not sequestered in a far away place, safely blocked off from humanity.
Heaven or “the heavens” (as the Bible often describes it) is a spiritual dimension coexisting with the physical world. The spiritual world is harder to recognize than the physical, even though the veil is very thin. I know that someday I will experience God more fully than I do now. But even now, God is here, as close as the air I breathe.
Often I’m too busy to notice His nearness. I am too busy to see Him, to feel Him, to listen to Him, and to worship Him for who He is.
While church services were shut down due to COVID-19, many Sundays our family gathered around the picnic table and studied the Bible. It turned out to be a very precious time for our family. We worked together to build awareness of God’s presence.
As Will and I practiced praying with the children, we spent time praising God for who He is. I noticed a big difference between praising God for who He is and thanking God for what He does. Of course we also spent time thanking God, but the simple praise was what my heart needed most.
It’s easy to let my mind spiral downward with the frenzy of opinions spewed in social media or otherwise. Petty arguments and accusations make me distrust people I once trusted. Reading the news depresses me. But God is here. With me. How have I lost my reverential fear of Him?
Learning to see God with my spiritual eyes, to feel Him, hear Him, and obey Him is what I need–what all of us need–today. The world’s roar melts into silence when we fall on our faces and worship Him.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” the proverb says (Prov. 9:10). This is not a crippling fear that makes us unable to approach Him, but a reverential fear that enables us to catch a glimpse of His glory.
His glory burns away what is trivial, petty, and sinful in us. We will be like Him when we see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). And He is with us now, right here in this time and place.
Our Father in the heavens, hallowed be your name.
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2 (ESV)