ChurchETHOS

Pursuing Prayer

Posted in christian habits, personal devotion, prayer by Nathan Creitz on March 10, 2009

Do Americans know how to pray?

I know I’ve been finding it difficult to talk with God and spend time with Him in the midst of such a busy schedule. But shouldn’t it be the goal of our life to simplify everything else so that we can increase our quality time with our Creator?

I tend to overextend myself. But I’ve been thinking about the things I commit to. The time that I give, does it belong to me? As a child of God, doesn’t my life belong to Him? Sure, most of the things I volunteer for are good things. But sometimes I miss out on prayer because I’m blogging helping a friend or meeting a need. Again, as noble as my motives may be – is it my time to give? My time, my resources, and my life are not my own.

Prayer is both the purpose and the process for getting our schedule under control. We need to spend time in prayer but if we don’t have time for God, prayer gets pushed to the rear. But prayer also enables us to get our schedule under control. How am I supposed to know how best to use my time if I’m not in communication with the One to whom my schedule should belong? I overextend myself sometimes because I mistake good things for the best things.

Prayer as Purpose

The end result of maintaining control of our time and resources should be that we can spend more on our relationship with God. If we are too busy to spend an hour a day loving and serving God then we are too busy. Some of that time could be spent in prayer. Some could be spent reading the Bible. Some could be sharing your faith or discipling a believer or investing in a small group of Christians with whom you are sharing life together.

But prayer shouldn’t be ignored. It’s easy to make it to a weekly worship gathering because people see you there and hold you accountable. Prayer is different. Prayer requires personal discipline. Prayer is a passion that you have to decide that this is more important than the American dream. It’s even more important than paying the bills. Overtime at work might help you put money in savings but it won’t keep you connected to God who is Jehovah Jireh (The Lord will provide). Prayer is the purpose. Prayer is the goal of a simpler schedule.

Prayer as Process

But prayer is also the plan. We are better able to comprehend God’s will when we communicate with Him and draw closer to Him. God is able to direct our steps but He won’t do it if we don’t let Him. If our schedule is packed from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed then there’s no room for Him. This is why Americans have such a hard time with prayer (including me). We work 50 or 60 hour work weeks (not to mention those who work even more). We fill our downtime with activity. We might get around to kissing our wife and hugging one or two of our children but that’s it.

I recently was sharing the vision of small groups and developing community with a group of church leaders. I was talking about the commitment to fellowship that seems to be missing and was encouraging a deeper level of commitment (like, say, 2 or 3 more hours a week) when one of them asked me, “How do you get people in the church not to think this is some sort of tax?” I think I handled my response appropriately but I couldn’t believe that a church leader would think that “being devoted to fellowship…” might be perceived as some sort of a tax on people’s time.

I totally understand the difficulty of spending time in community because I know how hard it is for us to even spend 15 minutes in prayer and in relationship with our God. But that’s not an excuse. Our current schedule is no excuse for not spending time with God, with our families, and with our community. We are ambassadors of Christ, not day laborers at our 9 to 5 job. God is not a task master but it should be our desire to do His will above all else. How can we know His will if we aren’t spending time with Him?

In times of prayer, God teaches us how to say “no”, but He also teaches us when to say “yes”. As we walk with God and talk with Him throughout the day, He directs our steps. He keeps us from burdening our lives with too much activity and helps us to say “no”. He opens our eyes to needs and opportunities where we need to say “yes”.

Stop saying “Yes” and start saying “Yes”

A few days ago I gave up something important to me because I knew my wife needed my time and attention. It was something that WE needed to do together and even though I hate cancelling something because it seems like I’m irresponsible, I know that has to happen sometimes. It should be the same way with God, we need to stop saying “yes” to every little thing that comes along that sounds good and we need to start saying “yes” to those things that bring glory to Him. If you’re like me, I always learn the lesson after I’ve already said yes to something and then I have to back out. This makes things difficult for everyone involved.

Americans know how to pray. But, just like the disciples, we need to be asking God to “Teach us TO pray.” Prayer is the easiest concept in Scripture to understand but it might be the hardest one to implement. Prayer at it’s basic definition is communication with God. We don’t need to ask “teach us what to pray, or how to pray, or when to pray, or how often to pray”. We need to ask God to help us carve out more room in our schedule to pray.

Related Post: My Top Concerns for the Local Church ::  Subscribe ::

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One Response

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  1. brent said, on March 10, 2009 at 8.33 pm

    great post…think i’ll go pray with my wife now!!!

    much love….b


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