Sep 16, 2022 08:00am
Practicing the Pause

What if our first response to difficulty was to move into a posture of stillness and prayer instead of pouncing into action? What if the natural inclination to jump into action isn’t actually the most effective way. Learning to be still in prayer as a first course of action doesn’t come naturally, but it is a habit that can be cultivated. It is the better way. It is the way that bears the most fruit.

Pausing to pray takes practice. It requires relinquishing control of the situation which is why it is difficult. When we stop and get still before the Lord in prayer, it feels slow. Too slow. We often foolishly trade the work of prayer in favor of forging ahead in our own effort. Do that several times in a row, and we are well on our way to forming a bad habit. As this bad habit progresses, we forge the way to living in the bondage of walking in the flesh. It’s a fairly easy sin to mask. Sometimes the mask is so good we even trick ourselves.

Transferring this head knowledge to the heart requires practice. It is a habit worth cultivating because it is the way of holiness. When the battle is fought in prayer, something miraculous occurs: God has time and space to move on our behalf.

So many stories in Scripture highlight the command to be still and let the Lord work on our behalf. One is found in Nehemiah 1. Nehemiah receives news from his brother that the people he loves are in great trouble and distress. Everything has fallen down around them, most have been displaced or killed, and the small remnant that remains is doing so among broken down walls and gates that have been burned. The way Nehemiah responds to the crisis holds a valuable lesson. Instead of hitching the first camel he finds to head west to get things moving in a better direction, Nehemiah takes a different approach. He trades a long camel ride in favor of moving into a posture of prayer; and not just a 30-second prayer but it’s as if prayer becomes his lifestyle for days that turn into months. Three to four months pass before he moves into “action.” The results of this method are remarkable. When the time is right, the first domino topples and the rest fall into place exactly as they should. Walls to move ahead are demolished and walls of renewal are resurrected.

What walls do you need demolished or resurrected today? Perhaps you, like me, need to practice the pause. Prayer before action is not always natural for us, but it reminds us of who God is and makes space for Him to work in a mighty way.

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