On Doorbells and Patience
Most adults I’ve met know at least a bit about this game. Some have first-hand knowledge, others just anecdotal. In case you aren’t familiar, this is the old gag where someone goes up to a neighbor’s door and rings their doorbell. They then run and hide, just to get a giggle out of whoever answers the door with no one there. Sometimes, they do it multiple times in a row.
I’m not writing this article to get into my philosophy of pranks. That’s a different article. No, this article has to do with our approach to God.
We play ding-dong-ditch, in a way, with Him. Though, in the end, the prank is on ourselves. And we aren’t even trying to pull a prank. We’re more like the teenaged boy ringing the doorbell to ask for a date and chickening out. We are almost sure we want to actually speak with God, either in His Word or in prayer. But, just as He is prepared to answer, we get either distracted, scared, or something, and switch gears to another task. It isn’t that we don’t really want to speak with God or hear from Him—it’s that we don’t have any confidence in the matter. I suspect that when answering the door to an empty porch, the person answering the door doesn’t know which is which. God does.
Let me explain, I’ve been studying prayer this summer. Having read several good books (and a few I just didn’t get into) I am starting to see where my prayer life has been struggling the most. And, thanks to Donald Whitney, I’m also learning where my Bible study habits lack as well.
In Praying the Bible, Dr. Whitney presents in detail what I’ve seen done, but hadn’t thought to incorporate into my own practice—that is, praying through passages with my prayer list by my side. I have often incorporated themes from different passages that were on my mind. Rarely have I taken scripture and applied it directly to my prayer list.
In a way, my prayer time and my Bible reading were two different doors. I would run up to one and ring the doorbell. Then, run to the other to do the same. Rather than sit with scripture in prayer—staying on God’s “stoop” as it were–I would run back and forth. This isn’t to say that I didn’t gain profit, nor find God distant all the time. Sometimes, I suppose He’d catch me, even.
But I’m ditching the game. As I’ve incorporated the idea of sitting with scripture in prayer, praying through a passage throughout the day, and seeking Him in His Word—not just through it—I’ve grown in faith. That sounds weird at first. But, by standing still after hitting the doorbell, I’ve been able to grow up. No longer the playful kid, or the reluctant teen, I can see where I’m growing in faith, in submitting to the Word. Patience in both prayer and the Word has helped me grow.
I’ve learned a deeper meaning to “keeping” God’s Word, as repeated throughout Psalm 119. By praying passages, I keep them before me. I keep them in my heart longer. I keep them in my mind longer. I keep them on my lips longer. And I keep them in my walk longer. Instead of ditching, I linger. And instead of missing my chance, I’m learning to sit and talk with God through His Word. What a difference that is!