Like most people in today’s fast pace information age, I like to keep my mind occupied. As a Christian, I generally occupy my mind with “Christian” stuff. I read Christian articles and books, listen to worship music or sermons during mundane tasks, write this blog, and study my bible. Philippians 4:8 says “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Using these activities as ways to turn my thoughts towards these things is good and helpful.
But lately, as I fold my laundry while listening to worship music, or dutifully read the latest popular Christian article (in place of the newspaper I guess), there’s been a nudging thought trying to push its way to the front of my mind. It’s this- with all this constant input, and all the noise (even though its good noise), how often am I sitting in silence to pray?
Gulp. Not very often.
In the past week I’ve heard about a mother of young children undergoing intense cancer treatments, another mom whose baby died at 9 months gestation, a young boy having surgery to remove a tumor from his kidney, a little girl who has dozens of night terrors due to lack of oxygen while sleeping, and a dear church family awaiting a corrupt government to release to them their already legally adopted daughters. I don’t personally know all these people, but my point is, we hear about, or see people going through various types of suffering every single week. So my own lack of prayerfulness certainly is not due to a lack of things to pray about.
I mention these things because they are what God has been reminding me to pray about. Still remains to pray for our families, our governments, missionaries, the persecuted church, forgiveness for sins and personal growth, salvation of souls, and the list goes on. Then, there is communion with God when we simply thank Him for all that He is and all He has done. We give Him praise from our own hearts in our own words. I don’t think there’s a substitute for that.
It comes to mind that the bible says “pray without ceasing (1Thessalonians 5:16)” not “read books without ceasing” or “listen to worship music without ceasing.” I don’t want to devalue other activities, but prayer is one of the most downplayed in many of our lives, though the bible teaches it as being tremendously important.
Do we only love to hear about Jesus or do we actually love the person and presence of Jesus enough to desire communion with Him? Are we aware of the incomprehensible opportunity we have to come before the Maker of the Universe in prayer? Does it awe us that we who have been washed by His blood have been granted the opportunity to “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16)?” In addition to this, do we care about people enough to actually pray for them?
Psalm 66:17-19 “I cried to Him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.”
He will hear the prayer of every child who comes to Him with humble hearts, saved by grace.
One final remark. Lest anyone would think I am elevating prayer above scripture reading- No! When we seek God in prayer, we may also find Him in His word. It is alive and speaking to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is exposing sin, giving commands, breathing life, healing hearts, brimming with hope, and displaying Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father. I think, when it is possible, prayer and scripture should go together.
As I read over this I am aware of my own frequently weak desires to pray. I read it and think, “O Lord, help me not to be a hypocrite.” So, I think it fitting to end by encouraging you to pray with me, even for the desire to pray. What a gracious God we have. “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:12-13).” Our weak desires are not unknown to Him, and even in these He will hear, He will have compassion, and He will strengthen our hearts to pray.