This is about prayer, but not about all kinds of prayer. The term “prayer” covers a number of practices: liturgical prayer, intercessory prayer, petitionary prayer, contemplative prayer and several others. Paying Attention is about taking a moment out of our day, each day, to turn our attention wholly on God, giving God our whole and undivided attention. It starts out small – ten seconds each day. It is like the first step that begins the proverbial journey of 1,000 miles.
One might characterize this as a type of “listening.” But if it is that, what are we listening for? It is not for some grand prophetic word from on high. It is for the still small Voice that murmurs through the earthquake, winds and fire of our surrounding world. That Voice will tell us many things, some of which will be amazingly useful in negotiating our way through the chances of this life. Most of all, it will tell us that we are known, loved and affirmed by the power that creates and sustains the universe. That Voice will tell us to take note of people and situations and be Its agents of blessing and healing in the most commonplace of circumstances.
The 1,000 mile goal of this journey is to attend this Voice in every moment of our day. Rather than removing us from the interactions of our world we’ll find we are able to pay attention to everything that’s important – even things we might not consider important had we not been attending.
When we discover that 10 seconds of attention is far more difficult than it sounds, the goal of total attention to God may seem less a 1,000 mile journey than a 1,000 light year journey. We know of no one who has completed that journey in the span of his or her life, but there are many apprentices of Jesus that have found energy, joy and excitement even in the first few stumbling miles.
Paying Attention is the first element of the Trinity Way of Life. All of the remaining elements gain transformative power through this first practice. And it begins with that simple first step: Pay Attention.