"Sorry God, it’s been a while.”
This is how I feel like most of my prayers should start.
I have structured my life to include prayer - grace at meals, for example, and each evening our family does Teaspoon (TSP) prayers where each person has a go at a 3 sentence prayer, “Thank you God for… Sorry God that I… Please God… Amen.” And when I say I’ll pray for someone I generally stop what I’m doing and do it straight away because otherwise I know I’ll forget. But that’s about it for me and prayer.
I’m not one for pouring out my heart to God. He doesn’t talk back! He doesn’t nod his head in the right parts, or interject with some prescient piece of advice. (I know some people have experiences like this - I haven’t.)
There have been occasions when I’ve felt especially close to God, when there has been a sense of intimacy, and that’s been wonderful. But then I fall off the wagon. It’s been 2 days since I prayed, or a month, or several months. How do you start back up again?
“Sorry God, it’s been a while.”
And I wonder how God feels on the other end. I know because of Jesus he is not angry with me. God doesn’t accept me because I have been regular in my prayer, but because Jesus has done everything that’s necessary for God to accept me.
But is he wounded? Wasn’t he hurt by my severing of the relationship? Even if he is not angry with me, how can I face him?
My relationship with my best friend has helped me to reflect on this question. Several years ago she moved interstate. Keeping in touch is not one of her gifts and after a while I thought maybe she genuinely didn’t want to keep in touch with me. After all, she had a new exciting life with a fabulous community. It turns out she was just as sad as I was about the loss of the relationship, but neither of us knew how to regain it.
Then she got sick, and I knew she was sick, but she didn’t talk to me about it and I felt that I couldn’t reach into that intimate space and ask her about it, because we had been distant too long.
Eventually we did reconcile, but now I live overseas and we are separate again. She’s better at keeping in touch now, but she’s the first to admit it’s still not her strong point. But we have an agreement that we know that not keeping in touch is not a sign of lack of love, and I’m totally stoked every time I get an email from her, and when I get back to Australia, there’s no one I’d rather hang out with and we pick up like no time has elapsed.
And I’m especially glad if she asks me for help because I remember a time when she felt she couldn’t ask me for help and I desperately wanted her to.
If I feel like this about my best friend, how much more the case with God! He is the one stands with his arms open to the child who has squandered her inheritance. He is not an angry God or a brooding God. He is a prodigal God - reckless and extravagant with his love. He does not require an apology before he will listen to me. He is waiting for the call, stoked to hear my voice, delighted to listen to my requests, relieved that I have reached out.
Do not be anxious about anything - even your relationship with God - but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil 4:6-7
Tamie hails from Adelaide and lives in Tanzania with her husband and two sons. In partnership with CMS Australia, they work with the Tanzanian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (TAFES).