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In the previous years I'd spent a lot of time on Scripture meditation. That was great for a season. But as I came to our final year in Spain, I needed a way to be free to be me, to express my heart to God on each specific day.
I started turning my daily Bible reading around into prayer. My prayer gave me one simple thing to chew on, one simple thing that I could meditate on all day long that was reflective of where I was at that day. Before I knew it I had 50 simple prayers written down, each one a heart's cry that I'd brought to God for a day. Some are silly, a pun that you roll your eyes at. Some are irreverent. Lines from an old hymn, a piece of scripture, a poetic image that no one else gets, but I do and God does. He knows what's going on in my heart.
I found this to be really meaningful for my relationship with God. I knew I'd need to do it for that whole year, our last year in Spain. When we returned to the US I knew I still needed to do it, and I'm still doing it today.
What motivated you to tweet your prayers?
A Simple Prayer was born out of a desire to share my transition with others, to feel "I'm not alone, I'm not crazy." I'd post them to say "This expresses where I'm am today" and receive back a "You're not alone. I'm with you and I have other children who can share this journey."
I also realized this could be a ministry. To people who've never prayed in their life, to see what prayer is. To experts and long-time prayer warriors who find their simplicity engaging. My prayers can be memorized in 30 seconds and carried with you through the day.
I decided from the start that my tweets would only be about prayer. And only one a day. What strikes me is the amount of chatter on Twitter. There's no silence! We can't engage with God without silence. That's another dynamic of this simple prayer. It seeks to cultivate silence. Our words aren't so much that they distract us from silence, to be able to hear back from God.
Do you ever feel the pressure of writing dry and missing a day?
When we quiet ourselves God is always there. There hasn't been a day in 2½ years when I've quieted my soul and God hasn't come and spoken a little something. The prayers vary. Sometimes God speaks powerfully. Sometimes it's me speaking to God. Sometimes it's more recollection than having heard God's voice. But God is there in that seed of faith.
The contemplative in me is resonating with what you say that, when you still your soul, God is there. Can I conclude that it's in the stillness that you tap into the grace you need for the day?
Exactly, that is the key, the stilling. During one season my goal was to come away from my quiet time with a sense that God just loves you. You don't have to get some brilliant insight out of the time. You don't have to come away from it with something you can use, or even an inspiration for a sermon or writing. Just the experience that you're the beloved of God is enough. "You're my child. You're my bride. I've laid down my life for you and would do it all over again. I delight in you and sing over you."
That year I learned that, when I come into this time with God, it's about letting God love me and learning to be the loved one. 'Cause that is who we are but often we don't still ourselves enough to grasp it. We feel such a pressure to perform, both from the world's systems and how the world has affected our church community systems. Within the pressure to perform we can't let ourselves be still and be loved for who we are.
That season when I simply made it my goal to come away with each time with God with a sense of "belovedness" was a very special time--and freeing. I often have to return to that. Even if I only have a few minutes, I can take a moment just to be still. That's also why I get up early so that I can take my time and not just jump out of bed into my day. I value taking my time so that I have the opportunity to be quiet and reflective.
Has A Simple Prayer been tangibly enriching to others?
One friend who is wrestling with depression wrote, "Without fail each day I go to your twitter page 'cause I know there's going to be a prayer there. It's amazing how you 'get me'. A lot of times you'll write something and it's like it was written for me."
Another person wrote, "You don't know this but I've been reading all of your stuff. I don't know if there's a God. I want there to be one. These simple prayers and the things you write on your blog are the closest I've ever come to seeing that there may be a God worth knowing. If there is a God, that's the God I'd believe in." After secretly following the prayers and meditations for a year, she reached out, which led to some interesting dialogue.
Sometimes you put things out there and wonder what difference it's making. But God is the God of cyberspace as well, working for his purposes.
You've given some gems for the inner life of the leader. Thanks very much, Troy. I hope it's helpful. It was a privilege doing this with you, Elizabeth!
Troy Cady has been serving with Christian Associates since 1998. Together with his wife Heather and their children, Meaghan and Nicolas, Troy spent twelve years church planting in Spain, first in Barcelona and then as the team leader of Mountainview and Oasis, both in Madrid. Since moving to Chicago in mid-2010, Troy has been on the North American Advancement team and co-leader of team building for Christian Associates. Troy blogs and twitters and has a new creative project in the works which will also be linked here when it goes live.
What has helped you to stay connected with the grace of God? Have a simple prayer of your own you'd like to share? (There's no need to limit it to 140 characters here.)
Troy on Conflict transformation
Conversations about the inner life
A cheerful giver?
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