In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul says we should “pray without ceasing.” Or in some versions of the Bible, “Pray continually.” In other words, all the time. Don’t stop. Ever. Does this seem impossible to you? It used to seem impossible to me. But now . . .
Mind you, I am not some kind of spiritual superstar. Don’t let the blog fool you. I may think about faith a lot, and write down my thoughts as best I can, but I am much poorer at acting it out than I am talking and writing about it. However, my feeble efforts are met far more than halfway by my great Lord. And so, growth comes.
Recently, I downloaded this app. I’ve been posting about it on Facebook, I’m so excited. My Facebook friends are tired of hearing about it at this point, I am sure. It’s called HomeRoutines, and it allows users to edit and customize a ready-made list of tasks. This is great for me because I have trouble remembering even the simplest tasks sometimes, especially if there’s a book or chocolate nearby.
There’s a section for your morning routine, one for evening routine, weekly list, today’s to-dos, etc. I just started using it a few days ago. We will see how long it lasts. If history is any indicator, in 2 weeks I will be saying, what app? But right now I am excited. I typed in all the things I wanted to remember to do in the morning, etc.
The first thing on my morning list is prayer time, and yesterday I forgot to do that in the morning. I forget fairly often, which is why I added it to my list. Well yesterday I was trying hard to check off everything on my list. I checked off 19 items. The app counts for you, which is really cool. But I couldn’t check off “prayer time” because I didn’t do it.
Technically, I did pray yesterday. I pray every day, shooting God a few words at various moments during the day. But I don’t really count it as “prayer time” unless I sit down and focus on God exclusively for at least a few minutes. I feel like God deserves at least that much, and I want it for myself, too. That centered feeling, the peace that only comes with spending time with Him.
So this morning I got up a little earlier than the alarm said I needed to, before everyone else was awake, and I decided to have “prayer time.” I sat down on the comfy-est part of the couch (the part I call “my seat”), and settled in. And discovered that I didn’t really have anything to say to God. At least, nothing new and interesting and different. I already felt known and understood by God. Nothing I could say would surprise Him, or even myself. It was a normal day, no crises yet, nothing of a pressing nature, no problems seeming to get the jump on me yet.
I know there were probably many things to pray about, and yet not a single one of them captured my attention. My mind wandered, and I wanted to know why I couldn’t think of anything to talk to God about. Maybe we’re like an old married couple, God and me. Not that much to say unless something is going on.
Later on I realized two things about that morning attempt.
First, I don’t know if I need words anymore to talk to God. At least not all the time. I’ve been in this relationship with God for almost 30 years now. And over all that time, I’ve learned to focus more and more on Him. Now again, I’m not perfect. I certainly have my moments where I’d be better off if I was focused more on Him, but for some reason, I am not. But He is on my mind very often now. Almost constantly, it seems. When something happens, I’m thinking, “What is God trying to do here? How is He involved? What does He want me to do?” And I’m asking Him about it, or praising Him when something good happens.
The point is, I’m either talking to Him or thinking about Him all throughout the day. Everything in my life is filtered through my perception of God and what I know of God. And isn’t that at least a little bit like praying without ceasing? My prayer life, like everything else, could probably improve, but my heart is always seeking that connection to Him.
The other thing I realized, well actually, it was something I remembered. This was not the first time I had this problem talking to God. And I remembered that previously, God had something to say about that. He said, no more praying in a vacuum. Those are my words. What he actually conveyed was an instruction. During my dedicated, sit down and pray time, I should not just come in prayer but also in study. Instead of sitting down with only my own thoughts, I should bring His word and maybe my current study materials. I didn’t just need to pray about my own perspective and my own thoughts and my own requests. Part of prayer is to discover God’s perspective on my life, to center myself around the things of God. And studying the Bible in conjunction with prayer time would be a really effective way to accomplish this.
I know this post is really personal in nature. I hope that my experiences strike a chord with some of you out there, that you can relate to them in some way. I don’t think we can ever know too much about how God works in the lives of the people around us. Please comment or email me your stories as well; I would love to hear them.