I hope you don’t mind me asking but what do you do when you go to the swimming pool? Race up and down the lanes? Dive in and mess around? Marvel at the twists and turns of the slides? Simply float and soak? Apparently the vast majority of us do one of these four things.
Last summer I was introduced to a parallel between these four swimming pool behaviours and four distinct ways to pray. The lane racers enjoy structured prayers following a clear pattern. The dive bombers pray most fluently when inspired by spontaneous meeting, incident or sight. Those that examine technical aspects of the pool love to research a topic for prayer so that they can pray with greater insight and precision. And those that float and soak, well they relish quiet meditation in God’s presence as they pray.
Apologies for mixing metaphors but the idea is that when we consider the type of swimmer we are it may indicate our preferred method of prayer, and following this prompting our prayer life can be more like a bird riding the thermals than the one frantically flapping without making much headway.
You may not feel that this image works for you, but I know that I’m a swimmer who loves to float and throughout my Christian walk I have enjoyed my closest and richest moments with God when I’ve taken hold of my Bible, found somewhere quiet and comfortable and simply listened to what my heavenly father wants to say as I soak in his presence. When I try to be more systematic in prayer I quickly struggle to keep a routine up and find myself discouraged at my lack of discipline.
The thing is, even though I know the wonder of those ‘floating and soaking’ times, I so rarely stop to have them. So, as any loving father would do, God has ensured that I have what’s best for me. In a couple of weeks I go into hospital for a back operation which will be followed by around 6 weeks of not being able to do much at all. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the operation and I’m in no way saying God’s caused my back problem, but he is definitely using it to draw me closer to him and has given me an amazing opportunity to float with him!
Thinking back to the swimming pool I wonder if you identify yourself with any of the four swimmers? Does the image resonate when you think of how you pray? If you find praying hard work, with a lot of wing flapping and not much progress, why not try a different way of being with our God who so longs for us to spend time with him? You may pick up a thermal and who knows where you might fly!
‘Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.’ Isaiah 40 v31
With love – Debbie x