Say, "Hi, God."

In this excerpt from his new book, Rick Hamlin shares how God's presence comes in surprising ways.

By Rick Hamlin, New York, New York

WEB EXCLUSIVE

Some writers talk about the discipline of meditation and prayer as though you have to take a mental whip to the thoughts that swirl around in your head and corral them back to your intention. You’re supposed to seek a sublime emptiness to find the presence of God.

In all my years of praying I’ve never been very successful at that. The brain is too active (at least mine is). Instead I think you should be very forgiving about all the thoughts that enter your head when you pray. They are not just distractions. They might be the main event. This is what you came for, to hear what’s happening in your head. Listen to it. Pay attention. Ask God where you need help. Drop your worries in God’s lap. Look for where you are needed….

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Some days on the subway, when I’m ready to close my eyes and pray, somebody will sit down next to me and I’ll know I need to talk.

“Hi, Rick. How are you?” says a neighbor I haven’t seen for a long time. I sigh. Don’t you see my Bible in my lap? Can’t you tell I’m busy? What arrogance! Maybe the thing God had in mind for me that morning was to listen to what my neighbor had to say.

One June morning it was a guy I hadn’t seen much since our boys played Little League together. He’s a high school teacher and was a terrific coach for our boys. I loved hanging out with him, but I wasn’t in a chatty mood just now. “Hi, Rick,” he said.

“Hi, Bob,” I said, “how are you?” I reluctantly slid my Bible back into my gym bag.

“I’m doing okay,” he said. We talked about our boys first, where they were, what they were doing. Small talk. But then he said, “I’m heading downtown to hand in my resignation. This is my last year of teaching.”

“Wow,” I said. “What are you going to do next?”

He talked about some of his plans and how he was feeling in the lurch, un-tethered, uncertain exactly what the future would hold. He seemed glad to share this milestone with someone, his last official day as a public schoolteacher. By the time I got off the subway I knew that conversation was more important than any of the prayer chitchat that would have taken place. “Hi, God,” you say, and God comes in the form of a friend who needs to talk.

 

10 Prayers You Can't Live Without book cover Known by millions as the executive editor of Guideposts magazine, Rick Hamlin has written several books including Reading Between the Lines, his memoir Finding God on the A Train, and several novels. A contributor to Daily Guideposts since 1985 and an active blogger about prayer at guideposts.org, Rick currently lives in New York City with his wife, Carol. This article is excerpted from his new book, 10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without: How to Talk to God About Anything (Guideposts Books 2013).        

 

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Your Comments (15)

So it's NOT just me! Who knew? I really needed to pay attention to this today - I feel such a sense of relief reading the excerpt and the comments. Thank you everyone.

I have just started the new book written about prayer. I remember when Rick started at Guideposts; he and I are the same age. Wow - time passes quickly! The book is great!

Thanks, Rick, for all you have done and continue to do for Guideposts readers.

Come to think of it, I have been receiving and reading the magazine for almost 34 years!

God bless.

I have always felt that I have ADD when it comes to praying....begin so seriously and all of a sudden I find myself planning the menu for tomorrows dinner or writing a note in my head for a dear friend...I feel God must just shake his head and say Oh my she really needs help...looking forward to another prospective on Prayer time

This excerpt from your book felt like it was speaking directly for me. I've always felt like I wasn't where I needed to be in my prayer life. My mind is full, and I feel overwhelmed at times that I'm forgetting to pray for all the people and things I need to spend with God in a prayerful relationship. Thank you for the insight to how God works and speaks to us in our lives through others and experiences.

I have been chastising myself for so long, asking God what was wrong with me that I couldn't concentrate enough to get through a prayer. Your article really touched my heart helping me to understand that perhaps this is the way it is supposed to be. Instead of trying to push the thoughts away I will start thinking about those "distractions" in a new way! Thank you!

I, too, have found it difficult to reign in my thoughts during times of prayer and meditation. My mind is always so busy. I've discovered if I let God into all that busy-ness, He speaks in ways you write about here. I try to live a life where I am constantly aware of God's presence. It's kind of like your saying, "Hi, God." I think of it as hanging out with God. We've never been closer!

Who knows where God will put us--when he needs us for his purpose.

Thanks soooooooooooooooo much, Rick. My prayer time is important - but my mind is always flitting to a million different places, and I feel so guilty about it. I have, however, often found that some of these are things I believe God wants me to 'address'. I'm hoping to forget the 'guilt' feelings and look for the things He is saying to me.

Thank you, I really needed to hear that. Especially at this moment when so many things are changing in my life I am finding it hard to concentrate, perhaps my conversations with God will have more meaning now.

Recognition is key and you have obviously found that. Well written and thank you for sharing.

A new fan.

It is so true! Should we be like the Pharasees in Jesus' time? Insisting on rituals and not heeding people's urgent needs. Nothing happens by chance with God! The advices that Jesus gave were, "Don't be like the Pharasees!" "Love your neighbor!" Thank you for your thoughts, as I was wondering about the issue.

Jan 31st, I ordered Rick Hamlin's book "10 Prayers You Can't Live Without". It also comes with the free book "101 Moments in the Presence of God". Neither have arrived yet and it is April 2nd. Just wondering if there is a date I can expect it. Thanks, Bonnie Fox

Hi Bonnie. Please contact our customer service department at (800) 431-2344 or by email at csinquiry@guideposts.org. They will be able to assist you.
Jane, there are customer service links at the very bottom of this page (you can use the one for Guideposts); you can also contact our customer service department at (800) 431-2344 or by email at csinquiry@guideposts.org. They will be able to assist you.

This has nothing to do with the above, but I need to talk with someone about my bills for "His Mysterious Ways". Can't find a phone no, anyplace so have resorted to this. My phone no. is 419-394-4208. Thank you. Jane Schnarre