Looking Back – walking and waiting

looking back

(this post first published August 4, 2007)

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.


“Looking Back” is an opportunity to republish posts which have mattered to me. They may matter to you, too.


One response to “Looking Back – walking and waiting

  1. Jon, it’s amazing how many people use this approach to prayer. I have to let go of the control before God has a chance to do anything about my problem. Do you think that God sometimes wants to just tell us to shut up and give him a minute? God has patience and a wonderful sense of humor to put up with us and to love us unconditionally.