We seem to be living in an epidemic of forgetfulness.
I find myself getting up from my desk on a mission, marching downstairs to a destination and standing there trying to remember why I came. Or consider my wife Julie and me. We have something that two months hence we are going to need. We put it in a particular place where both of us promise to remember where it is. Two months passing finds us frantically searching with no idea where to look. All of us have forgetting moments. After the frustration we laugh and move on with life.
But what if the object of our forgetfulness is God?
Always looking for fresh ways to spend time with God, I stumbled last fall on a devotional book by Timothy and Kathy Keller, The Songs of Jesus. The Kellers take you through all 150 psalms in a year. A prayer printed in the January 14 section reads:
“Lord, so many of my problems stem from not remembering you. I forget your wisdom and so I worry. I forget your grace and so I get complacent. I forget your mercy and so I get resentful of others. Help me to remember who you are every moment of the day. Amen.”
Forgetting God wreaks havoc in our lives so what can we do to help us remember him?
The ancient church, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, practiced praying throughout the day what was called, the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Such “breath” praying helps reduce forgetfulness.
Adam S. McHugh in his 2015 book, The Listening Life, put me on to a different breath prayer. Taken from 1 Samuel 3 and the story of God speaking to the boy Samuel, it goes like this: “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
“Saying the Samuel prayer almost always causes me to take a deep breath, to slow down and become more attentive to what is taking place around me and in me. I become more aware of God’s presence
. . . . My prayers become less about what I want and more about living in the presence of God. (McHugh, 84)
As I regularly pray like that throughout the day I forget about myself more and about God less.
I will continue to struggle with remembering names or with what I’m supposed to do where, but I can choose not to forget God. Breath-praying helps me do that and will for you also. Why not give it a try?