“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” ― Abraham Lincoln
Today is National Prayer day.
So let’s talk about prayer shall we?!
We have these images in our minds when we think about the word “Prayer”…perhaps it looks like this: or maybe maybe this:
These iconic images of prayer are okay, but are they really what prayer looks like and should be for us today? Don’t get me wrong, I am not discounting some of us might fold our hands like this when we pray, but by and large our prayer life probably looks more like this:
Driving back and forth from home to work, only to repeat this process. Perhaps after a really good, challenging Sunday service we might feel compelled to be more intentional about prayer and so we turn off the radio and simply talk to God. Realistically, the World around us seems to be a constantly busy place and our prayer life can begin to be measured out in how long it takes us to get to work.
Still there are some of us whose prayer life resembles this:
We work hard all day long and when it comes time for us to go to bed we think about prayer. So we pray, and we are serious about it, but at the end of the day we are completely spent and so our prayers fall into sounds of deep breathing and even snoring.
I don’t say this as a guilt trip, because I’ve been guilty of this too. We mean well, it’s just that our bodies and our minds are tired and we drift off to sleep.
Let’s Get Uncomfortable About Prayer:
This will probably be unpopular among many Christians, but we are too soft. We are not as disciplined as we should be in regards to prayer. Instead of looking like this in our prayer life:
(We don’t take the intentional time we need. We aren’t focused. We lack the discipline to keep going. We struggle with many distractions such as TV, cell phones, social media, websites, books, video game…etc. )
So we end up looking more like this in regards to the discipline of prayer:
And the only time we pull out our prayers, our conversations to God, is when we are in need of something. Could it be that THIS is why we feel as if God isn’t listening? Perhaps because we haven’t really disciplined ourselves enough to have a constant conversation with Him?
It’s like the couch potato suddenly getting up from the comfortable sofa and putting on their shoes and attempting to run a marathon without any training. Sure, some might actually finish, but by and large most would fall flat on their faces in utter exhaustion.
Prayer takes work.
Real prayer isn’t a bunch of “Thees” and “Thous” thrown into some fancy sentence full of flowery meaningless words. God doesn’t want our ritualistic prayers. He doesn’t want us to be something we’re not. He wants our authenticity. He longs for us to be completely candid with Him. He already knows us, there’s nothing hidden from Him…so why do we feel as if we have to put up a wall or limit what we say to Him?
Brother Lawrence, in his little book called “The Practice of the Presence of God” said this; “Do not be discouraged by the resistance you will encounter from your human nature; you must go against your human inclinations. Often, in the beginning, you will think that you are wasting time, but you must go on, be determined and persevere in it until death, despite all the difficulties.”
True prayer requires concerted effort.
It might require us to become uncomfortable.
Discipline is required to spend time conversing with the Almighty.
It is not a waste of time.
He does hear us.
He will speak…but the question is are we actually listening?
Do we need prayer?
Absolutely…BUT perhaps prayer isn’t what we have always been taught it is.
Could it be that our prayers should resemble more of a constant invitation for God to hang out with us? Could it be that instead of kneeling at our bedside, we continually begin to think and speak to our Creator? Perhaps we’ve been taught prayer is all about closing our eyes…maybe we should open them instead. God longs for our fellowship, and a part of that fellowship is our constant communication with Him. He is nearer than we think or realize. But perhaps could it be that our hearts are not completely in tune with Him? Perhaps we are out of sync due to our random, undisciplined prayer lives?
The Discipline of prayer is more than just a notch in the “Christian” belt of accomplishments (hopefully we don’t think of it like that), it is connect ourselves completely to the Divine. It is a part of Holiness. It is a part of the complete surrender the Holy Spirit is desiring from us. For many of us, a complete surrender is really scary to think about. Instead of thinking about the things we will give up, think about the life that we will gain and the peace and knowledge that brings.
I’m not there either, but I want to be.
Something more to ponder today.