Monday, September 26, 2011

Stop...and Pray

I have a hard time praying. Or at least I have a hard time making time to pray. And no wonder it's hard...if the only way I think I will have time is by "making" time. Not sure anyone has figured out how to do that yet. I guess it is more accurate to say that there doesn't seem to be enough time....with all the other things I have to do. Despite my best intentions, it seems there is always something pressing that I "have" to do right at the time I've earmarked for prayer. And on one level, these other things are important...things like work, household chores, spending time with family, etc. But on the other hand, if I truly believe that prayer is talking to the very Creator of the universe...and more importantly that prayer is actually a conversation where the very creator of the universe talks to me...then how can anything be more important?

No...I think the truth...the real not that there isn't enough time, but rather that I choose to use my time for other things. And once I recognize that....I just think...what the heck is wrong with me? Why would I not choose to spend time with Father?

Now I do talk to God a fair amount, I think. Slowly over the years, and largely unconsciously, I have redirected my natural tendency to talk to myself so that I address Him instead. So throughout the day I say things in my head (and sometimes out loud) to God. Things like: "Wow I blew that one, God" or "Thanks for that God" or "Please help me figure this out" or "Father please be with that person." And I am thankful for this...really I am. It feels good to have Him so close...or rather to recognize He IS so close. But I don't want to use this as a copout for not doing the harder more serious type of prayer. I've heard people almost boast about this type of prayer....where they don't have a prayer time...they just are always talking to God. And I certainly don't want to presume to know the hearts of these people...and certainly Brother Lawrence has shown us that such constant communication with God is not only possible, but obtainable by us all. So again it is a wonderful thing if you can develop this constant prayer stream in your life. BUT, I think there is a fundamental problem with my "talking to myself" version of prayer. The conversation goes only one way.

I mean it's obvious, but I so easily forget it....or maybe I intentionally dodge it. But any real relationship needs communication to flow in both directions. And that's certainly what God desires...He wants a relationship with us. And so it isn't enough that He hears us....but we have to hear Him too. And actually, I think most would agree that we probably need to hear Him more than He needs to hear us.

And maybe that is at the heart of my problem....of why I "choose" to do other things instead of carving out a few minutes to stop and just pray. I have no doubt that if I stop long enough to get clear my mind as best I can...and to just listen to God speaking in my soul...there will likely be some hard things to hear. I am sure there will be conviction...for so many of the sins that I gloss over and try to ignore...and guilt...for we need to feel the sadness and regret of our sin in order to propel ourselves toward repentance. And let's be honest...who wants to hear that? But aside from the fact that I NEED to hear those things...if I hide or even run from that encounter with God...if I plug my ears to His voice...then I'll also miss His words of Love...and Forgiveness...and Acceptance. I'll miss out on His Guidance...on His Wisdom. I'll miss out on the very thing that I was created to experience...communion with God. In short, if I don't take time...deliberate...focused...uninterrupted pray to...and hear God...then I will miss out. And I am missing out!

But it's hard to be's hard to stop. There is so much going on all the time. But I need to stop myself physically...and I need to stop myself mentally (which is often the bigger battle). Because what I'm missing when I don't pray is far too important. In fact, one could say it's everything!