“Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to prayer that is made in this place…..My eyes and my heart will be there perpetually.” 2 Chron.7:15-16 (WEB)
It is always tricky to attempt definitions of those things that are both deep and meaningful. But here goes. A working definition of love is: that to which you direct your attention. The people and things we love are those to which we focus our attention. We think about them. They occupy our conversations and affections. We give ourselves physically to their presence. We submit the resources of time, energy, wealth, strength and will to the beloved. This concept applies in casual matters like a sport team, a hobby or a favourite past time. It certainly applies to our friends, family and our God.
Simone Weil stated that, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” It’s one of the greatest gifts we can offer anyone. Considering the countless things and people that compete for our attention, it is also one of the hardest to give. Our heads, hearts and hands flutter from item to item, even from person to person. It is love that focuses our attention. When God commands us to love Him with everything we have and are, He is calling for our attention (Mk.12:30). We are to harness our thoughts, feelings, energy, body and resources and turn them all in His direction. We can do it partially (i.e., only on Sundays.) We can do it poorly (grunting from behind the newspaper as He speaks.) At times, we do it passionately as God fills our focus. But no one does it perfectly – we all learn and grow. We learn that to love God well is to attend to Him.
Of course, the next question is, “How?” How do you give God attention in your day? Many begin with the best of intentions in Scripture and prayer – but then our concentration drifts. The day unravels and the stuff of life squeezes out the attention we dedicated for God. But we can learn to recover and return our gaze heavenward. Grace before a meal. Conversational prayer as you drive. Moments of gratitude sprinkled through the hours. Taking 3 minutes of silence each hour. Re-reading your morning Scripture before bed. There are countless creative means to train the focus of our hearts and minds. Even as we keep connected to loved ones with texts or calls – so we can build attentive bonds with God throughout the day.
If this sounds onerous, like a chore, let your heart be warmed by this: God loves you. God gives you His full, unwavering attention. His eyes and heart are upon you every moment. His presence is never distracted. He thinks of you incessantly. When we consider the devotion God offers us, the attention we give Him is an echo of the grace we receive each day.