Walking and waiting


Originally uploaded by jon.swanson

7:00 am “Dear God. Please help me find a job. Not just any job, but the perfect job. Amen.”

noon “Dear God. I don’t want to seem pushy, but I really would like a job. And you said to ask, so I’m asking. Amen.”

3:00 pm “Dear God. I haven’t heard anything yet. But that’s okay, I know you are busy. But where I am now is really annoying and I don’t think I can handle this much longer, so I’ll just wait here in line. Amen.”

9:00 pm “Dear God. I tried it your way. But I haven’t heard anything, so now I lay me down to try to sleep. But waiting is really hard, so if you care, I’d like an email with a job when I wake up. Yes, that’s it. Just make someone send me an email with a job. Great. That will work. Amen”

4:00 am “Dear God. You’ve got 3 hours. Amen.”

Because of a number of conversations with a number of people, I am increasingly aware that I may not be the only person in the world who has a push-button view of prayer.


Here’s what I mean. When we are walking in the city, we see the direction that we want to go or need to go or think we need to go. We stand at the corner, but the traffic is heavy. We push the button and wait for the light to change and the traffic in our path to stop. When it does, we know we can walk safely across. Because pedestrians are important, the wait is seldom more than a minute.

We apply this same thinking to our lives. We decide which direction to go, we know that what we need is a new job or a new relationship or a new situation or a healing. We stand at the corner and pray, which means that we say words which we believe with push the God button. And when the traffic doesn’t stop, we push it a few more times. We may try cutting through the traffic. We may give up and walk away.

But what if God isn’t a traffic signal? What if prayer, rather than being a button, is part of a conversation with a person? What if the silence which we see as a broken button is actually Someone waiting for us to stop deciding which way we are going and start just talking about the path and the corner and the traffic.

I don’t like it when people look at me merely as a traffic signal, giving approval to what they have already decided, do you? I mean, you want to offer counsel and direction and conversation and relationship when people talk to you, don’t you?

Maybe God does, too.


5 responses to “Walking and waiting

  1. Ah, the “push-button view of prayer.” Great observation, Jon. It’s what I have often referred to as the microwave mindset of spirituality.

    Admit it, you’ve stood in front of a microwave oven, watching the seconds tick down while tapping your foot and thinking — or perhaps even saying — “Hurry up.” Okay, maybe it’s only me who does that. Nah, I don’t think so.

    God is so not interested in timetables. Our timetables, anyway. His DayTimer is the eternal model, and you can’t buy that one online. I’ve looked. 🙂

  2. It’s only recently that I am understanding prayer as a coversation about the “path and the corner and the traffic”. It has been a radical shift for me.

  3. Proverbs 3:5-6

    GP in Montana

  4. Mark Buchanan calls prayer “the poetry of waiting”.

  5. Pingback: Looking Back - walking and waiting « Levite Chronicles