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When prayers hit the ceiling...

Too often, it has felt like my prayers never reached God. I sent them up, and they hit the ceiling, dispersing like smoke.

"God, why aren't you listening?" I would ask. "Why can't I feel you? Why aren't you here with me?"

But the truth is, God is always listening, always present. It's we who are so distracted that we fail to settle in His presence. Even when we try to clear our thoughts, there's often a to-do list or concern lurking at the backs of our minds, siphoning away our attention.

I realized that I needed to stop trying to empty my mind of other thoughts and instead fill it with thoughts of God. Thinking of nothing leaves room for everything to creep in, so I fill that space with God.

What do I mean by that?

Well, I'm a visual person, so I use the imagination God gave me to seek Him--something a friend once suggested to me. I imagine myself at His feet, and oddly, I am always a child kneeling humbly in the presence of her father who sits on a bench. Never a grown, independent woman. I envision the sandles on His large feet, the starburst of golden light behind Him, His gentle face and the feeling of His love.

It's just the two of us, and I have His ear. I thank Him for the blessings in my life--small and large. I reach into the box on the floor beside me and pull out the twisting shadows of hurt or sin that I can't always name and hold them up to Him.

"Father, whatever sin I have committed, whatever is standing between me and closeness with you, I'm giving it to you. Please take it from me." And I hand it to Him.

I pray for the people in my life, I pray for myself, and with the desperation and faith of the woman who touched Jesus' cloak for healing, I touch God's feet.

I have never left those prayers with dry eyes. I know that everyone prays differently, and you should pray in the way that connects you with God. This is my way, and it may or may not work for you. But if you find yourself praying to the ceiling, unable to put aside distractions, try visualizing yourself in God's presence.

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