When I was in seminary during one class we added spiritual disciplines that were rhythms in our life for a semester. If I remember correctly I choose journaling as my practice, in part because it had been such a staple in my prayer life already. I enjoyed writing out my prayers; I felt connected with God through these times.
Now, several years after graduation, I find my journal sitting on my nightstand all alone more and more these days. Some days I'll pull it out and get a page or two in. Other days it goes untouched. For a while I thought that was a negative thing, thinking I had "lost my way in prayer." Thankfully my spiritual director helped me understand something, that today I experienced.
Today I felt myself curiously drawn to my piano. It's an old thing, with worn strings and a few cracked keys, the kind of wear that comes from years of play from generations of my family's fingers. Because of this wear and tear, it's one of the best pianos I've ever played -- it's keys move loose and free and have a sensitivity to touch like no other piano I've played. It's like the Velveteen Rabbit -- and I am so grateful to have it where I live.
I wandered over to its bench, sat, and began playing. Songs came out of me onto its keys, I felt my soul stirring. It was prayer. And today in playing piano I was more honest with God than I could have been in my journal. Something deeper emerged and it turned into a sacrifice of praise. And I felt God's pleasure.
After my time playing, as I got up from the bench I realized how grateful I was for what had happened, and that it only happened this way, today, because I responded to the quiet invitation I felt inside me. If I had been following my own "rules" I would have sat at the table, and prayed for several pages in my journal. And I know God would have heard and responded to my prayer there. But there was a gift to be received in my playing piano that would have been missed.
God knows us -- he knows what we need, how to give us the desires of our heart, how to bring relief to a weary soul. I wonder though, how often do I get in my own way because I'm following "the rules" I have setup for myself? And, I wonder what could happen if I allowed my rules to bend now and then when I sense a quiet invitation to follow Jesus outside my box?
What about you?
Feel free to share your responses in the comments. Your words are a gift to us all.