Dare to Be Bored with God
When was the last time you were honestly bored? You didn’t have anything to do, and didn’t have anything to fill it with?
I feel like by saying this I’m becoming an old person at the early age of 27, but kids these days don’t know how to be bored. Nothing to do? Here’s a screen. Entertain yourself.
But adults have adopted it too. Waiting in line? You don’t have to stare at a stranger’s head or force small talk; you can whip out your phone and look too busy for human interaction. Stuck in traffic? Turn on some music or a podcast. Use the time to relieve stress by singing your favs, or learn something new from a great speaker. Why would anyone sit in complete silence?
In our society, we are losing the ability to sit in the boring moments. Even if we’re physically still, we are rarely in silence. Music plays constantly in the car. Music plays in stores. Commercials play on screens at the gas pumps. We play podcasts while we cook.
What effect does this have on our faith lives? How can we expect to hear God’s still small voice over the noise? How can we expect to notice him when we’re constantly looking to be entertained more than left in awe at his creation around us?
I went camping over Labor Day weekend, by myself. I’d never gone alone before, but felt the need for this special recharge in a different environment than in my quiet apartment.
After the campfire had gone out, I lay on the ground gazing at the stars, hearing all the night sounds around me. Frogs, crickets, the breeze through the trees. I felt my relaxed breathing. My only prayer was “thank you God.”
At 8:00 in the morning, I woke up cozy in my tent, and my first thought was how peaceful I felt. The campground was quiet. Sleepy kids hadn’t found their way to the playground yet, and any family conversations over breakfast were hushed. I made coffee in my coffee maker (the one luxury item I need camping), and read a few psalms from my Bible. I sat at that picnic table and just talked to God. I didn’t have music, or the news, or Netflix.
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
I went for a hike through the woods and onto the empty beach, and the talking to God continued.
When there were so few distractions, praying just seemed normal. There was no pressured “prayer time” to fit into my one day of open schedule, it just happened. I didn’t feel the need to make my prayers long, deep, or orderly. I just spewed what was on my mind. So much thankfulness. Yet so much hurting around me that I honestly didn’t know what to do with. Admitting my failures and confusion in what God wanted me to do next.
I didn’t weep, gain some huge insight, or feel God’s presence in some obvious way, but I know he heard me and the time was not wasted.
Sometimes we put expectations on prayer or Bible study time and think we did it wrong or not enough if we didn’t feel something special in that moment. But that’s the devil telling us to give it up. Make it a habit to talk to God throughout the day about everything. When you hear of people praying for long periods of time, stop feeling guilty that your prayers aren’t “as good.” The relationship with God is the goal, not the minutes spent at one time.
But perhaps getting in that rhythm of noticing God is with you at all times is something you want to improve. Fall can be a great time to evaluate where we’re at. Kids are back at school and life falls into routines again. What can you do to make more space for intentionally being with God? He’s always with us, but we must pray for eyes to see.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:1, 10
I’ve seen “Be Still” written on so many home décor signs, on jewelry, and as phone screen savers. This is a great reminder, but my phrase lately has been “be quiet.” I distract myself far too often with Godly things that end up taking the place of actually being with God. Worship music, a Christian podcast, and a Christian living book cannot replace getting to know God personally through his Word and prayer. Some days I have to put aside the good “fun” things so I can focus on the best thing.
Praying demands something of us that passive Christian “entertainment” type resources don’t. It’s personal. We have to come up with our own words and face what we are actually feeling instead of just nodding along to what someone else thought of. Dare to be bored with God, and you won’t be. Our God is too big and incredible to be boring. Sometime we just need to be still and quiet enough to notice what a mind-blowing privilege it is to be able to talk directly to God! Don’t take that every day normal fact for granted. That boring normal is so, so special, simply because it does not change or try to become something else to entertain us.
The devil tells me praying is a waste of time. It’s not fun. He tells me it doesn’t change anything. He lies because he knows what happens when we meet with God. We face our sin and inability to do or have what we want. We receive redemption and reconciliation. We are strengthened. We can fight back at the devil. And he knows he will lose. So the devil tries to keep us busy.
Don’t let your schedule determine your life. You need to be in charge of your schedule!
Take stock of the time wasters in your daily life. Set timers or limits on entertainment or mindless scrolling. Set screen time rules on your phone settings to only allow you to use certain apps during certain hours, such as turning off access to social media apps as you get ready for bed.
Or maybe you wish you had time to waste in the first place! You’re busy every moment of every day. You don’t know what’s even possible to cut out. (Read The Best Yes by Lysa TerKuerst if it’s a struggle for you to cut back without feeling guilty.) You might even be doing a million and one wonderful, God pleasing things, but feel bad that your schedule doesn’t leave you with more time than for a quick “thank you Lord for this day. Amen.”
Let’s be intentional about what we choose to let in our lives. Know your non-negotiables like family and church. Value which hobbies or habits you need to keep to be healthy and happy. Decide how you can serve God and others in your current season. What are you doing for God, but not with God? Maybe you need some scheduled silence in your life to let God speak.
Sit out in nature. Go in your room and close the door. You don’t need to start with a game plan. Just talk to your Father about anything and everything. He’s not bored with you.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.