Chapter 9: Hit Pause
The night before I wrote this chapter, I arrived early at a church facility for a prayer meeting. The time with others would be encouraging. The time alone before they arrived would also be healing.
The sanctuary was empty. No people. No music. No lights until I clicked them on. No noise until my tennis shoes tapped in their typical rhythm.
I began to write names on a screen of people who’d asked for prayer. Wondering who else would come into the room and mention these people aloud to the Listener, I tried to write so the names could be noticed and under- stood.
I began to remember names previously placed there. Processing how some of our petitions to God were answered and how some of our requests didn’t end as we hoped, I wrote a few names again.
I began to do what I like to do in prayer meetings, even before anyone else arrives. I walked. I thought. I asked God to help me pray, to teach me to pray, to guide my dialogue with Him and His people. I wrote. I confessed. I waited, while approaching the One who knows me so well and is still madly in love with me.
Soon my friends arrived, and we prayed together.
What made that evening possible? I planned and scheduled a shift, a turn, a rewiring. As I wrote in the previous chapter.
The times when prayer is all we are doing is when we choose to pause, to step away from our hurry, to shift our schedule, to enter a prayer closet or a sanctuary or a tree house or an office or a plane or a boat or a horse or a monastery and do one thing. We pray. In a variety of ways applying many spiritual disciplines, we pray.
Well, pause has been a word I have written and spoken about often. I have a series of books related to that theme. I hosted a show based on that subject. And now, here it is again. I can’t leave it alone. It won’t leave me alone.
Pausing can be a type of prayer. It is a choice we make. Amid the hurry and among the demands and around the chaos, we select to call a timeout. We choose to breathe deeply and reflect. We decide to dribble the ball upcourt slowly this time after all the recent fast breaks. We agree to eat a meal slowly—chewing, tasting, enjoying, swallowing, and refusing to rush too suddenly for the next bite. It is finding the still waters and restoring our wounded, worried, hurried souls. It is being still and knowing, as best we can, He is God.
So, yes, these paragraphs are continuations of the previous chapter. Pause should be a part of every chapter, every day, every moment. But it, to me, is done better when seen as a choice to include my Creator in each conversation and every interaction.
And, yes, let us return to praying no matter what else we are doing and pray- ing when that is all we are doing. Both actions include a decision to pause.
- Why do you stay so busy?
- What are you seeking? Approval? Applause? Value?
- What suggestions would you give yourself to balance a healthy drive while not being controlled by the overwhelming hurry?
Each chapter is a gem, full of insight into human behavior, poignant stories, and practical advice. He doesn’t write as someone removed from hardship, but as a person who knows the depths of God’s grace and the assurance of God’s unfailing love. Maxwell is a wise sage and a companion brother. You can trust that he will not lead you wrong.