I don’t know about anyone else reading this, but I need a reminder every so often about living in the present (including keeping my prayer life centered in the present). It is very tempting sometimes to wallow in the past or dream of the future. There’s nothing wrong with learning from past mistakes or making future goals, but we are not to waste our time or our energies pursuing what isn’t, while ignoring what is happening around us.
If we look closely at the Lord’s Prayer, we see how centered it is in the present. There are a couple of forward-looking phrases (Thy kingdom come…lead us not into temptation…For ever and ever..) but most of the prayer is for the present and foreseeable future.
I need to be reminded, through Christ’s example and through scripture, that God wants me to trust Him for my daily needs and follow one step at a time. If I find myself spending more time asking God for things far out in my future, or continually bringing up things from my past, it may mean (though not always) that I am not fully trusting in the sufficiency of His Grace for today.
God has already seen my past– and loves me unconditionally. His Grace will not be rescinded each time I face a reminder of my past; He will not change His mind if someone else carries a grudge against me.
God has also seen my future. He knows my needs, my concerns, my desires. He wants me to bring my whole heart to Him in prayer–a heart that is ready to trust His provision and plan, even when I don’t know the details.
Think what would happen if every parent-child conversation involved the following themes:
- “Mom, do you remember the time I tipped over your plants when I was five, and you yelled at me. I just want to tell you I’m so sorry I did that. I know you said you’ve forgiven me, but I need to ask you again.” “Dad, I know you were disappointed when I got into a fight with my brother back when I was eight, but I hope you can see how I’ve learned a lot since then. Please don’t hold that against me today.”
- “Hey, Dad, I really want to drive when I turn 16. Can I ask you for a purple sports car when I turn 16? I want to be a good driver, and I just know that you want me to be a good driver. I think a purple sports car would make me a great driver in another seven years.” “Mom, will you promise to babysit my kids after I have kids? I just know my kids will want to have a close relationship with you, so will you just promise to be close to my kids when I grow up and have them?”
There’s nothing essentially wrong with the actual requests– but when we focus on the past or the future at the expense of the present, we miss learning what God has for us TODAY. We also risk seeing God only for what He gives and what He has done, and not for Who He Is!
Let’s enjoy time with God today (and every day) as it unfolds.