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  • Tim McQuade

A Quiet Presence

There are occasions when all my prayer concerns seem to rise at once. Maybe you’ve experienced that as well. I find myself asking that God would intervene in this thing and comfort that person and grant wisdom and insight to that group and so and so on. Now, all that is good. But there are times when I find my prayers are all me talking with no listening. It seems that at times God doesn’t have a chance to get a word in because I’m doing all that talking. I find that praying in that way that crowds out my listening. I wonder if, at times, I’ve made prayer into something like ordering from Amazon or fast food rather than something in which I am present and listening. “Yes, Lord, I’d like one healing touch for that person. I’d like to order some of your encouraging presence for these three people. And also I’d like some wisdom for these two groups. And could I get that all to go? Thanks!”

I wonder, no, actually I strongly suspect, that Jesus wants more than my words of prayer. He wants me and you as well. He wants our presence as well as our prayers. Perhaps it is better at times to just sit quietly in his presence without words.

One of our favorite places to go camping is the State Park on Kelley’s Island. The park looks out on the north bay of that island. There is a bench in that campground under some trees right next to that bay. I like to simply sit there and take in the bay, watching waves, listening to kids laugh playing on the nearby beach, or a bald eagle circling above. In that time through those things I see God’s gifts and presence.

Perhaps our times of prayer need less words and more quiet presence. Like sitting on a bench quietly with Jesus and taking in his presence. Praying is a very good thing. We should pray like people vote in Chicago: early and often. And I think it wise to remember there are times when prayer has no words. There is great value in taking a deep breath, exhaling slowly, and sitting quietly in God’s presence with no words or purpose other than to simply sit with him. In that silence we can listen with an open, grateful heart.

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