Today, is the National Day of Prayer. Communities around the country will be meeting for prayer. School children will gather around flag poles and pray. We celebrate our freedom to pray today.
But do we actually spend time in prayer? I don't mean the "shoot 'em up" prayers as we scurry from one thing to another. I mean, sustained, focused prayer time. It's so easy to let it slide, to let the to-dos crowd out our time with God, or worse, to treat our prayer time like a giant list of our own wants and needs.
Have you ever been with someone who talks incessantly? They talk about themselves and their interests and their issues and their problems. They don't let you get a word in edgewise. It can be difficult to be around someone like that. I wonder if sometimes that's how I come across to God. I'm so busy telling Him about MY needs, MY problems, MY wants that my prayer is just one non-stop monologue.
There are three things that occurred to me when I reflected on prayer today. The first is that we do not spend enough time worshiping God in our prayer time. To be honest, when I started this practice of private worship, I felt a little weird. It wasn't something I was used to - to me worship was something you did at church between the "hello" and the sermon, not something you do at home by yourself. But as I looked closer at what prayer is, I learned that worship is a very important part of my prayer life. I started by reading Psalms to God. Now those times of worship are precious to me.
Psalms is an intimate look of David's prayer life - we can learn a lot about prayer from David's Psalms. He was real with God - to the point of rawness at times. He also spent A LOT of time praising God. The thing is, we were CREATED with the purpose of worshiping God. That's why God created us - to worship Him. When we worship God, we not only please Him, but we remind ourselves of just who God is, and an accurate view of God's greatness is always a good thing in our lives.
The second thing that hit me is that we - at least I - do not truly engage in intercessory prayer. At the moment, I am working on writing a Bible study on the life of Moses. One of the things I learned from Moses is that he was a prayer warrior. I don't know how many times it says he prayed and fasted for the children of Israel, and he did this even when they were being really unlovable. His prayers were sacrificial on their behalf - he didn't eat; he lost sleep. When's the last time I sacrificed any of my comforts to pray for someone else? Sure, I pray for people in my quiet time, but when's the last time, I put aside my own concerns and things to do and spent time in prayer on behalf of someone else? The embarrassing answer is rarely. In fact, I can only remember a handful of times.
The last thing that hit me was that I spend way too much time speaking when I pray. Now you may be thinking - well, isn't that the point? Actually, the point is to know God, to have a conversation with Him. Conversation means that sometimes, you are quiet and you listen. Often, I don't listen. I babble on and on while God is patiently waiting to get a word in edgewise. It is not a coincidence that the Bible says, "Be still and know that I am God."
It's hard in this world to be still. When I get quiet and still, it seems like so many times a list of things I "should" be doing starts running through my mind. I almost feel guilty for just sitting at God's feet, so to speak, and listening to Him because there are so many other things that I could be doing, but if we are to truly hear from God, we have to get still and truly listen. It's pretty hard to listen when you are running constantly.
I am reading a book by Oswald Chambers entitled If You Will. It's a book of reflections on the power of prayer. Now, before you get too impressed, I often have to read his writings a couple of times to really get what he is saying. Old Oswald is not somebody I can read before I have my coffee - he can be seriously deep.
One part of the book stood out to me today as I was reading his thoughts on praying in the power of the Holy spirit. I found it comforting because while I have a part in prayer, being heard has nothing to do with my "perfect form." It has everything to do with Christ, though.
"We are not heard because we are in earnest, or because we need to be heard or because we will perish if we are not heard; we are heard only on the ground of the Atonement of our Lord."
Another quote from the book stood out to me too: "Prayer is not an exercise, it is life."
Oh, that I may live a life of prayer, of constant communion with God. The Bible tells us that those who seek Him with all of their heart, will find Him. Are you seeking?
~ Blessings, Bronte