Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson

WisBits Archive

September 2011

Un-Prayed For Answers

It occurred to me one evening that several things had happened that day that were remarkable.  And I had prayed for none of them. These small gifts just appeared.  So I grabbed an unused little notebook and wrote them down. Then I began writing down everything that happened that day I was grateful for or moments where I was especially aware of God’s presence.

Maybe such a thing sounds laborious to you, but I jotted down only a few words. It was simple and I found it to be great fun. So, as I’m able, I keep doing it before bedtime.  It includes such things as: ideas that come to me at work, learning how to change a tire (becoming a can-do woman), a lively radio interview about Abundant Simplicity, not being intimidated by someone who is overwhelming, taking a nap (a new skill I’m struggling to learn), a Spirit-drenched conversation with someone. This minute-or-two practice has become (Get ready for this—it’s really corny, OK?) sort of a date with the Holy Spirit.  I say, “Thanks. We really had a good time today.”

In some cases, what I write surprises me. For example, a while ago I listed a conversation with a certain person. I had dropped by that person’s house just to pick up something but that person asked, “Do you have a minute to talk?” I agreed even though I’ve sometimes struggled with being annoyed by him and have prayed to let go of the annoyance. In this lovely conversation, I saw some of the best sides of him I’d ever seen. I actually enjoyed the conversation. 

At the end of the day, I quickly listed this conversation.  I saw that I hadn’t prayed about it beforehand because I didn’t see it coming.  But God did a beautiful thing and offered a setting where two people could share concerns and enjoy each other.  To me, this was an un-prayed for gift that answered a desire I had but hadn’t thought about.  What a gift.

All sorts of benefits seem to flow from this little practice:

  • I seem to be less critical and crabby because I’m appreciating the goodness of God’s life in me.
  • More often I think, Everything I have, I have received from God (which fosters humility).
  • More often I pray this re-arranged Jesus Prayer:  “Lord Jesus Christ, how you have been merciful to me, a sinner!” (Which then makes me more forgiving of others).
  • I seem more prayerfully attentive to my day.
  • It’s fun celebrating such delightful things.

I’ve noticed that I write many things that are unremarkable.  In fact, they are part of my daily routine, but I enjoy them:  a workout that I throw my whole self into (rather than getting distracted and going through the motions), hiking, time doing lectio divina, an assignment finished, a walk with my husband, a sunset, a spiritual direction appt, an email from someone dear, a song or hymn that played in my mind all day.

So much of what I’m grateful for is merely part of my ordinary experience.  Many years ago I was stuck in a body cast for 8 weeks and could do very few of these “ordinary” things. I wanted to do them so badly, and now I do them every day. My life is so much better than I thought!

    ©Jan Johnson

FYI:  I’m a guest on “This is the Day” 10-11 AM, Tuesdays in September (Moody Radio Network with stations nationwide)  http://www.moodyradiochicago.fm/rdo_programtoday.aspx?id=44985

Grace and peace,
Jan Johnson




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