Pursuing a Passion for Prayer…When You Barely Have Time to Brush Your Teeth
‘I’m a mother of little kids, I don’t have time to pray. I barely get time for a shower!’
‘I have a busy job, and my boss requires me to work really long hours.’
‘I have to help care for my parents as well as run a business.’
Do any of these sentiments sound familiar? I’ve read many books on prayer over the years. One that comes to mind is the classic by Bill Hybels – ‘Too Busy Not To Pray’. But that’s just it. We are so busy these days. I’ve recently cut several commitments out of my schedule, yet I still feel busy. Perhaps this is just the season of life I am in with young children. One of the commitments I cut out was the role of Prayer Coordinator at church. You’d think I would have more time to pursue prayer now that I have omitted several commitments. But still, prayer is often the first thing to fall on the back burner. Even people who have roles such as ‘Prayer Coordinator’ struggle to pray. We are all in a battle and the enemy fights us to pray and read God’s word, because he knows that when we pray and believe the word of God, things happen.
Sometimes I have been guilty of filling my schedule with activities, leaving little room to spend time in God’s word and prayer. I’m not suggesting for a moment that we need to feel pressured to pray. Many people feel under immense pressure today. Many parents work long hours in jobs just to put food on the table. Some of us are just plain weary. Or perhaps we are overwhelmed by all the needs we see around us. We hear of horrifying things happening to Christians in the Middle East. And around us are those suffering cancer, those with marriages in turmoil. Friends with sick parents, depression, chronic pain or colicky babies. We might wonder, where to start? Jesus himself understood weariness. In Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 11:28), Jesus teaches us “’Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’”
We are never condemned for our failure to pray. Instead, God graciously and gently invites us to fellowship with him. Haggai admonishes us to prioritize God’s work: (Haggai 1:9) “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.”
In our family we have been working on a few strategies to bring prayer back into the centre of our lives. Prayer is one of our values in our family mission statement, and short of putting a blanket over our heads to pray (like Susannah Wesley did), we have developed a few simple prayer strategies. One is a prayer jar. We write down prayer needs the we know of and pray for one or two of them at dinner time.
Last year I developed a little prayer timetable. Prayer needs are broken down into praying for one area per day.
One day I would love to have a prayer room, as depicted in the film ‘War Room’ which is about to be released this month. From the producers of Fireproof and Courageous (which I found encouraging if albeit a little cheesy), this film is geared to be the most powerful film yet. ‘War Room’ explores how pursuing prayer can have a dramatic positive impact upon marriages, parenting, careers, friendships, and every other area of our lives. Many areas of our lives can sometimes feel like a war zone. Maybe we too, need a war room where prayer strategies are planned for the battles that we face. Because we all face battles.
I my pursuit to prioritize prayer, I am challenged to take a break from distractions. For all the time that I spend on facebook, I could be praying. We all have 24 hours in the day, and even if we are in a really busy season, we have small pockets of time where we can pray. Let’s prioritize time spent with the Lord, even in the busy seasons of life. We need to keep on keeping on. I am really not a morning person, but I might even be challenged to get up early one of these days!
. . . I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. (Psalm 119:147)
. . . Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went
off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35)