Last week I called the dealership to make an appointment to change the oil in my car, which of course I have done many times. When the receptionist came on the line I told her why I was calling and gave her some basic details that she would need to make my appointment. Once she found my previous information, I requested the time of day for the appointment as well as clarified that I would need a shuttle ride to work. When I offered her the info, she responded by asking me for the very information I had just given her. I was a bit befuddled as this happened multiple times in a very short conversation. I finally realized that she was not listening to me thinking that she was following a checklist of questions to ask each customer. I was patient with her although I did look at my phone a couple of times thinking I was missing something. In the end it all worked out fine and my car was grateful for the new oil.
Devotions and prayer are a part of my every morning routine however sometimes when I pray my mind wanders to the day ahead. Someone suggested a method of praying called the 5-finger prayer that helps them to focus. It’s quite simple. Starting with the thumb you pray for those who are closest to you like family and friends. The pointer finger is meant for anyone who helps point you to God. This is the one that generally has been missing from my prayers. Can you identify who points you to God in your life? I can think of mentors, leaders, pastors or teachers as some great examples for this finger. Then comes the tallest finger is intended for country presidential leadership, heads of business management, political leaders, medical staffs or anyone else who could use a prayer. The ring finger is meant for the weakest people such as the sick, injured, unemployed, homeless, abused or anyone who is struggling. It is not hard to identify these people if you watch the news, volunteer or walk down the street. And finally the pinky finger is for you. Many times when I pray for whatever concerns in my life gets first priority and sadly by the time I finish with what I need, there is no time to pray for others. This is why the smallest finger comes last. When we start with the thumb and work our way through the needs of others we have only a short time left for ourselves. I will say that praying in this way has really helped me be more intentional with my focus. I think this type of prayer could be adapted in a couple of ways to fit tough times or even for praising the creator. What if we prayed scripture verses. This works especially good on days when you want to cry out to God like the psalmist did: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest,” (Ps. 22:1-2). Or if you want to praise God for creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands,” (Ps. 19:1). The 5-finger prayer can be adapted in whatever way it helps us go to God in prayer.
Still the question remains; how can we create a more complete conversation with the Lord? God wants us to rely on him for our needs however our time with God can’t stop there. If we are honest, most of us only want God to listen to our needs but I believe God really wants to engage with us, in us and through us. So what if we add another step to the 5-fingered prayer? When we have completed all of our finger prayers, could we turn our palm upward as a sign that we are giving our prayers to God trusting that he will make them right? Then as we continue to hold our palms open, we take some time to openly listen to what God is saying to us. By doing so just imagine what we might learn about his intended purpose for our lives and the world around us. Here I say, “Speak, God. I’m your servant, ready to listen,” (1 Sam 3:9).