Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How Important is Prayer?
If a person believes, as I do, that relationship with God is the most important aspect of life, then how can I explain how little time I spend in prayer?
Maybe the true question I should ask is this: "What is prayer?"
There are the definitions I've learned in classes and workshops-
For example, the ACTS definition: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
I agree those are all aspects of prayer, and maybe those are suitable expressions of relationship, but somehow, I feel like if that's all there is to it, I'm missing the point.
I can adore my husband, and tell him my faults. I can express gratitude for our marriage and for all of the wonderful qualities he possesses, and I can ask him to provide things that I need. But that alone is not marriage, is it?
There has to be a sense of relatedness... the consciousness of connection throughout the day, whether we are together or apart, we are joined together in life.
How much more, then, this mysterious union- "Christ in you, the hope of glory-" should result in a relationship that impacts my thinking and all of my activities throughout the day.
Not the almost superstitious comment I've often heard in conversation: "Oh, I didn't have my quiet time today, and everything went wrong. I wish I had started my day with prayer."
There have been many days that arrived before my scheduled morning prayer time... the baby awoke early and, fussy for some reason, demanded my attention for two hours. The dog barked and cried just before I had planned to get up. Someone was sick, or the water heater sprung a sudden catastrophic leak. Life interrupts! So I have to be dependent on something deeper than a few minutes, or even an hour-long time, in meditation and prayer.
"Pray without ceasing," the apostle Paul wrote. And so I need to learn what this means.
I believe that does include hour long prayer times and Bible study (for two-way conversation). I believe it includes those desperate one second prayers- "Lord, help!" But I believe with all my heart that what Paul meant when he said, "pray without ceasing" was to know God so intimately, to abide in him, as He lives in me (that mystery again) that my life is connected to His by the relationship.
Missing my first hour of the day doesn't necessarily disrupt that connection, but going through my day without giving a thought to God surely indicates a lack of union with Him.
How important is that relationship? How important is time in prayer?
Without extended time in prayer- all kinds of prayer- the other kind of prayer, the shorter prayers and requests I should be making throughout the day, won't happen.
Prayer is taking time to know God, to understand His purpose and will, not only for my life, but for the bigger picture, as Jesus told us to pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
That kind of prayer won't happen naturally. I have to make it the most important thing in my life.