One of my favorite times of the day is just a few moments before sunrise when the house is still relatively dark. I turn the light on at my desk, open my prayer journal, open my Bible and, sometimes grab my prayer beads.
I have this journal from a few years ago, that divides my prayer subjects into days… Sunday is the Church, both local and universal, Monday is a day of Praise for all that the Lord is, was and will be; Tuesday is for my own personal needs, Wednesday is specific prayer for my husband; Thursday is set aside to pray for my children and grandchildren; Friday is for our local, State and Federal Government, schools, teachers and the like and Saturday is prayer for the persecuted Church. Even with those specifics, each prayer begins as Jesus’ did ~ recognizing the holiness and grandeur of God. Praising Him for all He is ~ not necessarily for what He has DONE for me, but for who He is! And there is still time spent each day in all those daily areas, along with a list of my congregants so I can remember and lift each one daily and others who may have asked for prayer or I know to be in special need of it.
As I wrote this, I could not help but think “Wow! No wonder the hours fall away!” Yes they do. There have been so many books written on prayer and sermons on prayer, but it was Billy Graham who once said, “Prayer is simply a two-way conversation between you and God.” But, prayer is a discipline I believe we have an enemy that seeks to destroy us and one of the ways he does that is to distract us from devoted prayer.
Now, let me say, that the idea of “popcorn prayers” isn’t a bad one. It’s often necessary, but when the “popcorn” prayers become the norm and there is no devoted time spent with our Lord and Savior, it is we who suffer.
Being married, I know that time spent with my husband over coffee or over a meal is important and usually joyful. As a parent, I know that time spent with my children is important and usually joyful. Having a best friend, I know the joy of time spent with them. It is the same with Jesus. We should never neglect time with our Lord above all else.
The Bible is filled with scriptures on prayer and each of those has a nugget of truth on how we need that nourishment of time with God. Do a Google search on books on prayer and pages upon pages of hits come up. We all KNOW we are to spend time in prayer, but how… How?
Well, no good thing is easy. Many things in our 21st century lives are fatiguing. Studies indicate few of us are getting enough sleep. Americans are often overworked and over run. The same goes with prayer and study. Can it be fatiguing? Yes! But the knowledge gained from time spent with Jesus in prayer, the comradery gained in knowing that the Holy Spirit is with us wherever we go. He is our daily companion … all that goodness is eternal. When I take the time, I rest better and I know that work given as unto God is an easier yoke, troubles given over in prayer become God’s, not ours.
A few years ago I read “Confessions of a Prayer Slacker” by Diane Moody. It was and is one of the best, easily read and practical books on prayer I have ever read. From that I learned how to start working toward a more faithful time in devotion to God. First, I rose earlier. I am NOT a morning person. Coffee is my crutch. So, I began by rising earlier than normal, grabbing a big cup of coffee, my list, my Bible and heading to a quiet place that guaranteed me privacy for a little while. And then I sat and imagined Jesus across from me with His coffee. And I talked. Just talked to Him. About life, about scripture, about …. Well, my frustrations with this life. I sometimes cried, sometimes laughed, but always came away refreshed and ready to start the day. Sometimes, even now, years later, I have to remind myself to go back to that mode. Sometimes I get too bogged down in the study or I fail to recognize Him, being too bogged in the needs of others. Sometimes coffee with Jesus is just that. Coffee with Jesus…. Sometimes there is little talk, but more tears. Sometimes my talk with Jesus is his chastising me for my failings (note above where I mentioned time with children and spouses was mostly joyful). Sometimes I just crawl into His lap or lay at His feet and cry because I need to just touch the hem of His garment. But, I always…. Always….. leave with a sense of joy, of completeness, of just having been with Jesus. He loves to walk with us. He loves to talk with us. We just have to stop…. Be still… and Know. But, we have to DO it! We have to be willing to sacrifice time, offer up time, for Him. But, what we gain… That time with Him is gaining eternity. It is establishing a relationship; it is establishing a comradery that shows in being one with our Lord and doing His will and not our own. How can we know what God expects of us on a daily basis, if we spend no time with Him? It’s simple… just like a friend, a child or a spouse… time spent is invested in a future. In the case with Jesus, the future is eternity.