I’m constantly amazed at how God works all things together in our lives. You would think by now it wouldn’t surprise me, but it does. I shake my head in awe and I can’t help but be moved to worship and adoration for the way he orchestrates.
A few months ago I was made aware of an area of lack in my life. Nobody pointed it out to me. They didn’t have to! I knew it was there and I could feel it. A disconnect. A frenetic pace. A feeling of just being unable to stop for any length of time. Unable to focus deeply. Unable to pray with intent for any length of time.
Instead my mind would wander. If something to be read was longer than a 1,000 word blog post I would lose interest. If a prayer was longer than 4 minutes I would get distracted.
Ah, the distractions.
It’s interesting in this time we live in because we’re quick to claim we have more distractions than ever but I contend there were just as many for those people living hundreds of years before us. When the telephone was first invented I’m sure that many thought it’s ring to be a horrible distraction. Or when electricity illuminated homes well after dark some may have complained about the way it changed life.
The bottom line is we’re a people prone to wander. I feel it, just as the hymnast did so many years before me.
Don’t get me wrong, my life is prayerful. Quick “be with me’s” throughout the day and offerings of thanks out loud too numerous to count. Prayers before meals and bedtimes are normal and so are times offered up after discipline or when someone gets hurt or is just having a difficult day. We turn to God time and time again throughout our days and this is great but the lack I felt was dedicated time of prolonged prayer. Time to offer my heart and lay it bare before my saviour. This simply can’t happen in a minute or two or in under 140 characters.
So what does one do when time and prayer are lacking? Well, you pray for time to pray. Sound silly? I assure you it’s not.
Over the past month God has shown me more reasons to spend more time in prayer. Like I needed anymore. I had reason enough but was still having a hard time dedicating chunks of my day to it in a focused way.
So he sent my boy across the world, many time zones and oceans apart. I pray for my kids daily but when they’re out of your grasp in lands you’ve never been sharing the gospel in parks and on streets? Well, you tend to pray a little differently.
And then this little book called Seven made it’s way into my life and I began a fast. Do you know what happens when you fast? Well, your reliance upon yourself and your abilities decreases and your reliance on something greater increases to such a degree that you can’t not pray. Or at least I couldn’t bypass it. It became necessary to get through the days.
It seems almost laughable how many ‘prayer’ centred things God has placed before me in the last week. To the point of reading things like so often that all I could do was throw my hands up and say, “Okay! Okay! I get it!!” I’ve read such things as, “if thou art waiting to have fellowship with him at some distant season, thou wilt never have fellowship at all.” or how about the question, “Do we engage with lukewarmness in private devotion?” or the challenge, “let us attend sermons, but above all, let us be much alone with Jesus.”
These were all water to my thirsty spirit.
It’s easy to say I’ll pray when I have more time or life is just so busy or I just can’t seem to fit it in. But as John Piper states, “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” We have time for everything else we want in our lives. I do, I mean. I have time to sleep in and go for daily runs. I have time to bake and to blog and to read book after book. I have time to vaccuum and to paint and to discuss the colours on the walls. I have time and so do you because you’ve taken the time to read this.
All of these things are good and none should be avoided but so too with prayer. How are we putting it off to replace it with these? We just need to take the time. I just needed to take the time.
It’s easy for me to do as opposed to pray, I think it’s something in the way I was wired. Easy for me to wake up early and read scripture, fill my soul with inspirational blogs, lift my hands in corporate worship and give to those in need. It’s so much harder for me to sit quietly before the Lord. Bringing my very being to Him, praying specifically for people or church or circumstances, not really doing anything at all but spending time with Jesus. It seems a no-brainer that this needs to be done but for some reason it wasn’t happening. I would start and then I would get distracted by all the doing that needed to be done and I would hop up, assuring myself that I would pray while I was doing, but that simply wasn’t the truth.
Sure, in times of trouble, heartache, sorrow, or fear it’s easy to call upon the Lord. But what about when things are just gliding along merrily? When things seem to be working in our favour? I love the words of Spurgeon, “Surely, I say again, you will not treat God the worse because he treats you the better.” The more ‘right’ things are going for us the more we tend to abandon our time spent with the Saviour. I love how he questions this in us.
It’s been hitting a bit closer to home for me with my boy gone away for so long and realizing completely that he is a horrible communicator. I always knew it but thought maybe it would be different this time. But alas, no. I get two word texts twice a week (at best!) and they’re along the lines of, “yes” or “not really” depending on the very specific question I asked him. I get face time calls when I ask for them and these have been maybe once a week.
I imagine if my boy was gone for more than 31 days, say for 3 months, or a year, if this type of communication kept up our relationship would dwindle. I would no longer know him well. I would slowly lose touch with what he’s like, the things that excite him or the things that he hates. I wouldn’t know who his friends were or how he’s spending his time. I would no longer be able to read his eyes and know what he was thinking like I can now. Simply because the time we’ve spent together hasn’t fostered such a deep relationship. I imagine it wouldn’t take long before his calls became even less frequent because he no longer needed me. Or he might call simply when he’s in trouble or in a situation he can’t handle.
Can you imagine Mama’s and Dad’s if this was our relationship with our children? If everytime they called our thoughts went to, “What do they want now?” because that’s the only time they called? How would we feel if we spent so little time with them that we didn’t even really know what they were like anymore?
And so it is with God. He doesn’t need us to pray, but he wants us to. In fact, he specifically tells us how. He wants to be in relationship with us the same way that we want to be with our children. We want to know their intricacies, their fears and their needs. We want to know what makes them giggle and the state of their very heart. It’s why we spend time. It’s why we take them places and show them things but also why we snuggle quietly without even a word just allowing them to feel the safety of our presence.
Let’s spend time with our Father, dear Christians. Let’s foster a relationship deeper than it currently is. Let’s show him the places of our hearts in the good and the bad. Let’s adventure out with him but also sit quietly at his feet. Both are needed. Both are beautiful. We were designed for both.