Yesterday I spoke briefly about a book I’d just finished that was full of such brilliance I could’ve turned back to page one and started it again. {A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis} And one of the thoughts that struck an especially resounding chord on my metaphorical guitar was about God being a God who shatters our images of Him — Who breaks the boxes we try to put Him in, per se.

In prayer that morning, I’d admitted to the Lord that I felt like I was going through the motions again — plopping down on the couch to quickly offload a few things in the direction of a brick wall so that I could be on my merry way. I was praying for deeper…something more. He gently pointed me in the direction of a specific habit I’ve had for some time, that I write down a significant amount of what I pray.


At one stage, writing down my prayers was a useful tool for my spiritual life. It helped me to focus and provided immediate accountability — I could easily look at my prayer journal and see how my heart was doing. It slowed me down to a quiet and thoughtful pace, and also blessed me to look back and see how I’d asked and He’d answered, how He’d led me to pray and to act, and I’d followed.

It was a healthy spiritual discipline for a season.

In this season, it is a source of separation. In my mind there is always ‘the other’ — the person who might read these written down prayers later on. And that influences how I choose to pray. While it worked well, and was a useful tool for connecting with God for quite some time, in this season, it is a hindrance to genuine intimacy.

And though I’d felt this lingering discomfort for some time, I didn’t really want to admit it, or bring the unsettledness to the Lord because 1) I’m human and I like it when I think I’ve got something figured out, and 2) heythereI’vegotenoughchangegoingondon’tthrowanythingelsemywaythanks.

I want to interject here to be clear that prayer itself is a spiritual discipline that is important and useful in every season. There are no two ways of interpreting scriptures like Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” {NIV} I am not going to stop praying.

I’m just referring to my practice of writing so much of what I prayed down. Writing letters to God instead of carrying on a conversation. That was a habit that started out drawing me near, but became a source of separation.

Imagine a couple who always eat at the same restaurant every Friday. It’s the restaurant where they met, where he proposed and she said maybe, where they hosted their daughter’s rehearsal dinner…you get the idea. They do it because they’ve always done it. The menu hasn’t changed in twenty years, but the management has, and things are getting a little bland. A little boring. It no longer draws them together, no longer fosters connection.

Neither of them wants to be the first to suggest, “Why don’t we try this place this week?” or “What if we stay in, order takeout and rent a movie?” Instead, they smile through their teeth sipping from the same glasses and eating the same. old. thing.

But God says:

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. {Isaiah 43:19, NIV}

God is consistently moving in ways we haven’t seen Him move before.

So where to from here? I’m planning to begin simply conversing with the Lord again (though I’ll still make notes of things in a prayer journal here and there — whichever side-dominant my brain is, it just works for me.) I’m also planning to begin studying prayer, and I’m planning to invite you along for the journey.

So where to for you? Does some aspect of your walk of faith feel stale and dry? By all means press on, but look for a new road. Does your New Year’s Resolution to read through the Bible keep ending with a bust and you feeling guilty before the end of March? Maybe it’s time to look for a new way to read and study Scripture.

Let God do a new thing, with you.

The Sermon in a Nutshell: If your spiritual life feels like a meal you’ve been eating every Friday since the late 80s, know that the Lord has probably been graciously trying to help you, the one with the free will, choose a new restaurant.