Prayer is not asking for what you think you want, but asking to be changed in ways you can’t imagine.
- Kathleen Norris
It was a noisy Sunday in church. Just as the service started, so did the thunder. When the readings began, a baby started to cry. And then when we got to the responsive prayers, a voice from several rows behind us boomed, “Lord, have mercy!” so loudly it was hard to think. After a few rounds of it, my nine-year-old grimaced and whispered, “That is annoying!”
I suppressed a grin and whispered back, “Yes, it is. But sometimes it’s easier to be annoyed than to worship. Choose which path you’re going to take.”
Stephen gave me the look that nine-year-old boys often give when they’re reminded to do the right thing: half acknowledgement, half exasperation. But I could see him renewing his efforts to concentrate on the prayers. It made me glad, so I sent up a little prayer of thanks. I thanked God for the blessings he’d sent us in disguise: the thunder and the wailing baby and the loud man. Without them, perhaps neither Stephen nor I would have realized that noise wasn’t the problem: The real issue was the ease with which we could be distracted.
As if on cue, the baby began to cry again. An elderly woman started to tell her daughter something out loud. And the organist hit several wrong keys for the next hymn. It was all good. And none of it interfered with worship... unless I let it.
Julia Attaway is a freelance writer, homeschooler and mother of five. She is the editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. She lives in New York.