Adele Richards is an amateur parent of two exceedingly fabulous little girls. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far away...
Every ten minutes it emits a high-pitched shriek and I talk to Jesus.
Some of you may emit your own high-pitched shrieks that compel you to talk to Jesus, I believe this is called stress-induced prayer. More power to you. But I have a timer to remind me.
Carol Arnott started wearing a timer like this after meeting Dr Arne Elsen, who has been worshiping Jesus every ten minutes for the past nine years. And he prays for his patients and invites them to worship every ten minutes too. He sees around 5 terminally ill people healed each week.
I have another reason to dip my toe in the ten minute worship water. (Metaphorical water, although you can definitely worship Jesus in the bath or shower. Loud, tuneless singing is recommended in these instances.)
My reason is that I’ve long been inspired by the life and writings of Brother Lawrence, a monk who lived 300 years ago, and spent most of his time working in a loud, busy kitchen. He found a way to live in almost unbroken communion with God throughout his day no matter what he was doing. He called it ‘practising the presence of God.’ After quite a bit of practice he found that he could stay connected to God, worshipping him in his heart while doing the washing up at the monastery, talking to others and generally going about his chores.
Brother Lawrence found that simply being aware of abiding in God’s presence at all times, caused him to be full of a joy, peace and love that transcended stressful situations and when asked to do a task he didn’t know how to do, he simply asked God and God spoke to him about it. It sounds very much like Jesus’ lifestyle – “The Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing.” (John 5:19 NLT). Jesus looked to see what his Father was doing and then copied him.
Oh and it also sounds like that thing Jesus said about the vine and the branches. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV).
It’s pretty hard to have a ‘quiet time’ when you have small children; they wake you up at the crack of dawn, jump on your head the moment you open your Bible, and when you close your eyes to pray at the end of the day you conk out with drool running down your chin. Maybe that’s just me.
But if Brother Lawrence could manage to have a non-stop ‘quiet time with God’ WHILE he was in a busy, noisy kitchen with people talking to him… it sounds just like the kind of spiritual life a mother of two small children needs. Talking to God and dealing with tantrums all at the same time? Now that’s multi-tasking I can get on-board with.
“I got mad with the Holy Spirit.”
Or can I? I’ve tried before to ‘practise the presence’ a few times. You know, really tried HARD. Praying in tongues under my breath while making the Weetabix, singing worship songs while plunging the toilet. Despite my sincere intentions, I probably managed three minutes tops without being distracted, and would forget about it altogether periodically throughout the day. I’d start again the next day. And the next. But it was tough going.
And because I am incredibly holy, my response to this abject failure? I got mad with the Holy Spirit. Yes, I told him off. It was all his fault. Clearly there was no way I could be expected to remember to remember him. Why wasn’t he poking me with a cattle prod non-stop throughout the day? He was being very lax with his nagging. Then when I realized blaming the Holy Spirit was a bit bonkers, I gave up. (Impressive, aren’t I?)
So when I heard about the ten minute buzzer that emits a high pitched shriek, I thought – that’s the badger! Or in other words, THAT’S IT. That is definitely it. That’s how I’m supposed to practice the presence. Get trained by a buzzer and hopefully after a while I won’t even need the buzzer to remind me to remember that Jesus is with me.
One week in to buzzer-ville, and it goes something like this:
Me to kids: Could you get your shoes on please, we’ve got to go out.
Me to kids: Could you get your shoes on please, we’ve got to go out.
Me: Could you PLEASE get your shoes.
Me: SHOES! SHOES! SHOES! NOW!
Me: Goodbye. I’m leaving.
Buzzer emits high-pitched shriek.
Kids: Mummy, do that thing. Talk to Jesus…
Me: Hello Jesus. I’m really glad you’re here. Thank you for being with me all the time. I really like you. You are ace.
Me to Kids: SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOES.
Can’t you just feel the holy glow emanating off me? Yeah, not so much.
Aside from the fact that I can still switch from worshipping to shouting within a nanosecond, I am loving the experience of learning to practise his presence.
When the buzzer goes off, if I can, I close my eyes (not if I’m driving, or slicing bread with a sharp knife. And definitely not if I’m doing them at the same time).
For a few seconds, I find his presence. I relax. I enjoy him. I feel the Holy Spirit.
It’s really, really nice.
And then I get back to shouting at the kids and slicing bread while doing 90kmph on the freeway.
After just a few days, I can tell a difference. I feel like I’m aware of him in quite a lot of the moments that fall in between the buzzer beeps. I got into bed at the end of the first day and took a sip of water from the glass next to my bed, and laughed when I caught myself thinking: “WOW! WATER. Isn’t water great? I love water. I’m so grateful for water. Thanks God for water.” I can assure you spontaneous gratitude is not usually my last thought before falling asleep.
I have this little picture that comes into my mind, when I close my eyes to practise his presence. In it, I see us together in a beautiful walled garden. We are standing very close to each other like two people in love, and we’re deep in conversation. He’s listening to me attentively and though I can’t hear the words I’m saying to him, I kind of know that it’s prayer. There is a river of conversation flowing back and forth between us. I believe it’s a picture of what is actually going on inside my spirit, where he and I are already completely one. There, I’m intimate with him all the time.
So when I hear my ten minute Jesus Buzzer and I stop, sometimes I become aware of this conversation. This wonderful, intimate conversation I’m having all the time in the secret garden of my heart. It’s beautiful. It’s romantic. And I want to learn to be aware of it all the time, even when I’m washing dishes and shouting SHOES.
I’ll let you know how I get on.
• The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence is a short but inspiring book.
• Gymboss Timers are available from Catch The Fire Resources, among other places. And they don’t really emit high-pitched shrieks, just beeps or you can set them to vibrate instead.
• Join the Facebook group The 10 Minute Worship Revolution
• Bread knives and shoes, widely available everywhere.