“Life is busy.” 
“I’m busy.” 

It’s easy to say those words. They roll off the tongue. Should they, though? Pastor Eugene Peterson, in Christianity Today, decries busyness as a betrayal of real relationships: it’s a desire to appear important or a laziness that avoids the hard work of setting priorities. How often have I said this implicitly to the Lord by the lack of time and attention I give him?

What does this have to do with poetry? Both nothing and everything. Nothing, because poetry is not about busy-work. It’s about reflection. Everything, because poetry is about relationship––it’s about you relating to your world, your life, and your Maker. It requires slowing down, and this is what I need when it comes to spending time with God. 

So, lately, I’ve been experimenting with praying to the Lord through poetry. I was inspired by my church’s Bible-reading journal––which suggests actions, reflections, and questions for each day of the year. The final action, probably derived from the ministry of Prayer Current, is to “pray with your pen.” 

Here, then, is my first prayer poem, written while sitting on my couch one morning:

Slowing Down

In the whirl of the noise
I bring you praise
Seeking peace among the toys
Turning to your face

This way of prayer
Is new to me
Casting my care
Wanting to be free

Peace, your peace, draws near
Thank you for this space
This sacred, holy sphere
Lightened by your grace

A world of wonder awaits
Colours on the wall
Empty those busy, full plates
Smile in the face of it all

The busy world whizzes by
Sun goes up, light later fades
Stable truth, chaotic lie
Up I keep the shades

The stars shine on
Even when clouds form
Hope for the sun
A brand-new morn

Your mercies are new
Each morning of life
Your words are true
Like my faithful wife

Mystery abounds, what to do?
Trust, wonder, and hope
Relying on the whole of you
Not sitting still to mope

You have a future in store
Shaping my calling, in love
There’s so much more
Your promises fit like a glove

Help me, LORD, to walk
Side by side in your power
Not forgetting with you to talk
Each and every hour.

As I slowed down to listen to my thoughts—and his thoughts—I was calmed and reminded of what is most important in life: walking in step with God, being attuned to his Spirit, and valuing our relationship. God and his priorities are what is important, not my own desire to appear important, and not my desire for keeping life easy by avoiding some of those priorities. 

So, farewell to the unhelpful desire to be labeled as “busy”! Instead, I say “hello” to embracing poetry and other means of slowing down to humbly, prayerfully, draw near to God. I’m letting him define my priorities. Will you slow down with me?

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About the Author

Hobbe Smit

Hobbe Smit is an occasional writer for Power to Change and is on staff at McMaster University (since 2010), where he is also a part-time student. He enjoys spending time in Hamilton, Ontario with his wife Heather and their two children. He also enjoys reading, birding, board games, and computer games.

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