I'm afflicted with a weakness called "detouritis." It comes on me whenever I head for my closet—my “prayer closet,” as Jesus called the time we set aside to pray. I sincerely want to meet God, but I grope and stumble. Something happens to me on the way to pray.
I sense an invisible but very real Enemy who lurks in dark corners carrying a suitcase full of masks and disguises. The tag on his suitcase spells "Wiles." That's not his name; that’s a description of the contents. It's full of tricks and strategies meant to fool, trap, and entice me. The devil is a master of crafty and beguiling behavior. He designed his cunning activities to lure me away from time alone with God. Chicanery and fraud are involved. I don't consider myself naive, so why am I such a willing victim of the Deceiver?
He is downright devilish. I don't really think I’m important enough for him to give me his infernal personal attention, but it's obvious that Satan has trained his underling minor devils well. They seem to know me inside out. In my own strength I'm no match for the Deceiver or his crew. Of course I know what he's up to, but sadly, I still fall for the same old tricks.
In the morning, the Deceiver seems to gently rock my bed like a cradle. Perhaps it's a flashback to my infant days, but I never fail to doze off again even after a full night's sleep. He succeeds in convincing me that I’d be sleep-deprived if I didn’t get a few more winks. He lullabies me by crooning, "You don’t have to get up yet. Just a few more minutes...." I feel compelled to roll over, pull the covers up, and before I know it the sun is streaming through the window. No time to pray this morning. Now I must rush!
At night, the Deceiver uses a sandman disguise. If he has kept me from reading the Bible and praying in the morning, he thrusts me into phase two. He convinces me that I'll still have time to spend with God late at night. When I try, it is as if he places tiny lead weights on my eyelids, and they begin to droop. I try unsuccessfully to rub the sand out of my eyes. My mind struggles with cobwebs. I have no idea what I've been reading in the Bible. Certainly I haven't grasped anything that would fortify me against the Deceiver's tricks or touch God meaningfully.
On the other hand, the Deceiver is more than willing to let me read a novel far into the night. Or permit me to watch a late show on television without nodding off. He knows that if I delay my prayer until the last thing at night, he's home free and I'm his victim again. My theme song could be:
“My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine.
(But I'm just so tired that I want to recline.)
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou,
(But I'll catch you tomorrow. I'm sleepy just now!”)
The Deceiver knows that if my traditional mindset dictates that the proper times to meet with God are only in the morning or at night, he knows he has me all day. However, I do have free will and I could resist the enemy's wiles. Why should all be lost because some urgency or emergency kept me from my accustomed Quiet Time in the morning? I could simply schedule another time during the day when I’m alert. I could show the Deceiver who is boss—God is my boss! As I abide in Him, and He in me, I could be in God's presence all day long. When I walk and talk with the Lord in the midst of my daily activities, the Deceiver has to keep his distance. He has no power in the presence of God, although he will still keep trying to interrupt, to distract my mind, to intrude on my awareness of God's continual presence in my ordinary pursuits. Why do I persist in my victim mentality and succumb to “detouritis”?
Failing to divert my mind, he often attacks my body by making me hungry, or thirsty, or itchy whenever I enter the presence of God—or he summons up any number of little aches or pains that he's used successfully on me before. But God has provided a defense against him. What is my shield of faith for, if not to deflect the Deceiver's attacks?
Lord, here I am—finally!
Did You think I wasn't coming?
I began to think so too.
I can't understand what I do:
Why should I take a detour
from entering Your Majesty’s presence
to clean smudges from windows
(when I hate doing windows!)
instead of hurrying to meet You
to cleanse my soul?
Then I water house plants
that aren’t even thirsty
while it is I
who need a fresh drink
of the Water of Life.
I confess my predictable dawdle,
dilly-dallying with trifles,
delaying my delight in Your presence.
Honestly, Lord, I do desire You
first above all else
though who would guess
as they watch me digress?
I keep You waiting for me
You, who are King of the Universe,
Creator, and Savior of men!
Please forgive me!
To my shame I expose
my distorted priority.
You've never made me wait.
You have never been late.
You've always kept Your promise
that if I draw near to You,
You will draw near to me.
Lord, draw me like a magnet
into Your presence.
Cause me to come
straight as an arrow
instead of taking a detour
at every distraction.
Well, finally I'm here now
sitting at Your feet at last
cleansed by Your Word
resting in Your love
refreshed and restored
by my Ever-forgiving Lord!
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness..." (Matt. 6:33). "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God..." (Psalm 42:1,2). "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you...” (James 4:8).