Friday, February 13, 2009

Getting started

So what is prayer, really? And how do we go about it? Do we set aside certain times each day for prayer, or do we pray in snippets of conversation throughout the day? Should we pray in the morning or in the evening? What does it mean to "pray continuously?"

I'm hoping to delve into some of these things for myself in this & future posts, and if any of them help someone else, then that's just a bonus!

Something I've always struggled with is having consistent times spent in prayer & Bible study (I like to refer to this as my "quiet time," although sometimes my prayers are anything but quiet!).

I've never been a big morning person. I can wake up early, if I have to. But don't expect me to be happy about it or have a nice conversation over breakfast unless I've been awake for at least an hour! Growing up, I had always heard people in church talk about "waking up to have their quiet time" and "the morning is the best time of the day to devote to God." I think that this has been one of the reasons I struggled with consistency--mornings are my worst time of day to focus, I'm exhausted, and usually fall asleep when I try to pray.

I tried evenings, but somehow that didn't feel as "spiritual" compared to what other people were doing. And I would find that I'd forget what I read or learned after a good night's sleep. Working full-time made any during-the-day quiet time difficult. So, when was I supposed to find time for God?

I used to always think, "When I get to be a stay at home mom, I'll be at home all the time. I'll have sooo much time to devote to God's Word and prayer." (snicker) Looking back, I had much more free time when I worked during the day than I do now at home! The grass is always greener, isn't it?

My point in this rambling post is that I'm learning that it's all about embracing the season of life that you are in. Are you single and live alone? Maybe mornings work out great for you. You can wake up...instead of your morning coffee with the paper it's your morning coffee with your Bible. There are no spouses or children to disturb your peaceful times with Christ. Or maybe you work evenings and get home around 1 or 2 a.m. There's not much on TV anyway...get out your Word. Let Him speak to you. Spend some time talking to Him.

For me, in this season of my life with 2 small children and a husband who works weird hours....I just have to take it when I can get it. Five minutes at the breakfast table (you know, when the kids are done eating--you're always the last one eating anyway, take advantage of that time). I post some prayer reminders above my sink; while I do dishes, I say little prayers for people I love. Sometimes, like today, the days are horrible and endless. The last thing I really want to do is spend time with the Lord at midnight. But I know it's the One Thing I need to do.

My husband (oddly enough, a morning person!) gives me grief about staying up late. He does this because he loves me, I know, and because he's wise. He knows that there is an almost 100% chance that one or both of our small children will be awake between midnight and five a.m. But sometimes, like tonight, I know that an extra hour spent with my Lord is not an hour of sleep wasted, but an hour of strength gained. I am re-centered, my mind and heart are once again at peace. I gain new power for the days to come.

I was reading in Psalm 119 tonight, and I was encouraged by all the different times of day that the author prayed or meditated on God's Word. "In the night I remember your name." "At midnight I rise to give you thanks." "I meditate on it [your word] all day long." "I rise before dawn and cry for help." "My eyes stay open through the watches of the night." "Seven times a day I praise you."

Let's not get hung up on the "when" but concentrate on the "Who."

Monday, February 2, 2009

A simple truth

I was mulling over the concept of prayer today. And I came away from that time with this simple truth:

In order for prayer to work, to accomplish the purpose for which God created it, we have to actually pray.

Not read about prayer in the Bible, not read a book written about prayer, not talk to others about prayer & how it changes lives....

Just pray.

All those other things are good, but they must be used to help us "work out our own salvation." We have to pray. There's no getting around the work, no shortcuts, no "10 steps to answered prayer."

Just pray. But, oh, the rewards!!