“You’ve got to pray just to make it today” sounds like The Message’s hipper version of a New Testament verse, however this was nothing uttered by Paul or Peter. Words straight out of a MC Hammer song in fact. Say what?! Evidently Hammer Time liked him some prayer time. So why am I quoting the man in gold genie pants from back in the day? Because he’s right, for a variety of reasons.
Why in our crazy busy day should we seek to spend time with God?
Well first because there are no excuses for busyness. If Jesus, God’s own Son, didn’t throw down the “get out of prayer time” free card, who are we to pish posh sacred time with God?
In Luke 5:16 we are told that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray. Even on top of a mountain for an entire night once, then there was that whole 40 days in the Wilderness thing. Totally justified to skip out on prayer as he had been with God since the beginning of time, Jesus was always leaving the crowds to go be still with the Father. Even pushing away from lingering with friends over a most delicious Last Supper knowing full well he was T minus 6 hours until crucifixion to go to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.
Need another reason to seek some prayer time?
Because God has been seeking our attention since the beginning of time. The Torah, or Old Testament before Jesus came to earth as man in the New Testament, is full of sacrifices, atonement protocol and offerings season after season as high priests sought God’s forgiveness for sins so they could approach the most holy of holies inner sanctum.
King David is credited with most of the Psalms which vary between wailing in anguish to shouts of praise as prayers lifted high. Minor and major prophets spent their lifetimes in prayer seeking God’s will and direction for the Israelite people. With the tearing of the Temple curtain from top to bottom when Christ died we were allowed to approach God and be in direct communication with Him. Which is great because PETA would freak at the amount of animal sacrifices it would take to get me through a day!!
How about this reason to find time being still with God?
Because in this busy, loud, chatty world we need quiet. In Pslam 23, you know the whole Lord is my Shepard one, we are told that God leads us beside quiet waters to refresh our souls. Cue quiet.
Between Netflix, alarms, kid TV shows, Pandora, chatty neighbors and alerts for new posts and texts we are rarely in silence. In fact I holler out “turn on the radio” in the eerie stillness. However how will we hear Him if we don’t quiet our world?”
And it’s not an audible George Burns sort of God voice to expect, but that nudge on your spirit to handle a situation a particular way. Or a twinge in your consciousness as you make a choice after earlier asking for direction from above. A lot of time in the quiet of prayer time it’s a burden lifted or a peace that floods over me so I am reminded that He’s listening. He’s there. He’s present.
How many times have I missed that gift of His presence because I never stopped to listen in all of my chatter to others? How many times do I worry out loud, but never stop to pray over the situation stressing me out? Now I’ll totally pick up my phone to chat up a storm with my Mother, but my Maker? Not so much.
And finally the reason it’s so vital to create a prayer habit now?
Little eyes are watching. And be aware that your children will grow up to pray just as much as you pray now.
I heard Andy Stanley say once that as a youth pastor parents of wayward teens would show up in his office to say “help me straighten him out” yet the child had never stepped into a church because the parents had never seen it as important. And Andy’s response? It’s too late. Wow. The lack of spiritual influence that the parents have is the exact mimicked behavior the 17 year old now has. That shouldn’t really be a surprise.
Ingraining a reaction to life with a response to pray is one of the best gifts you can give your child.
So how do you create a prayer habit now without wasting anymore time?
Just do it.
As you go about your day offer up what a girlfriend of mine calls a Spit Prayer. A child falls off a bike, you receive a disappointing email, you score rockstar parking it’s a quick on the spot “thank you God as I know you’ve got this.” Literally spit it out girl.
Memorize scripture to pray to get started.
Jesus used the Lord’s Prayer to teach his disciples how to pray and that’s a great beginning. Certainly God doesn’t want robotic repetition as the content of your heart is more important than the context of your words, but in desperate times I can be devoid of words. I know. Shocking. But for me memorizing Philippians 4:6-7 was the kick start I needed when words failed me.
Start a prayer journal.
Some folks pray through song, some spoken word, and some writing. There are no rules so if writing out your prayers is your best bet for communication with God then grab a pen and go for it. A secondary blessing is that you can look back on times of despair and see how God answered your prayers, reminding you that He has been faithful and will continue to be.
Pray for your neighbors on a prayer walk.
Um what? No seriously. When you start praying for others it changes the feelings you have towards them and your natural instinct to have primarily self-centered thoughts. So either on a run or a stroll, pray for the folks in the houses you pass by and for your community to be a safe, blessed, joyful destination for all who live there. Because don’t you want to think that your house is being showered with random prayers by others throughout the day?
Learn to replace sketchy thoughts with breath prayers.
No she didn’t! Look I’m pointing right at myself here when gossipy thoughts, jealous feelings or even inappropriate mind wanderings. Learn to quickly change thought gears and offer up a breath prayer that God re-train your thoughts. In Romans 12:2 Paul challenges us to let God change the way we think – be transformed by the renewing of your mind. It’s as though conversing with a friend, truly the easiest chat you’ll have all day if you are surrounded by little ones like me.