Well, I issued my church a prayer challenge of sorts this past Sunday. I asked them to log their prayer life over this week. I asked them to actually write down the amount of time they spend talking to or in communion with God. Your reaction may be similar to what some of theirs was. “I’m not so sure about how that is going to work.” “How can I log my prayers, I pray all the time throughout the day.” “What exactly do you mean by prayer?” “Isn’t that kind of, well, unspiritual?” And you can now add your reaction here.
First, let me say it does seem kind of weird I know. Also, I do not believe that time spent in prayer is necessarily an exact measure of the effectiveness of one’s prayer life. However, I was just looking for some sort of tool for us to be able to evaluate our prayer lives. Is that wrong? I mean, if I was trying to lose weight wouldn’t I want to step on the scale every now and then just to see if it was happening? Oh and some diets even make you keep a log of the food you are eating. If I was trying to produce a product wouldn’t I grab one every now and then and inspect it just to make sure I was putting out the desired product? Is it so wrong to examine my life to see if I really am making disciples or in this case to see if I really am a person of prayer? I guess you can decide. I will say this though, everyone who expressed to me some sort of contrary attitude has since communicated to me how the challenge has actually benefited their own prayer life in some way. So after 3 days of taking this challenge myself I want to share with you some observations from my own prayer life.
First, I have been so conscious of prayer throughout the day that I have found myself praying so much more. In every situation. The thought of the challenge will pop into my mind and so I will naturally think, “I need to pray now.” So I begin to pray and talk to God in my heart no matter where I am or what I am doing. People come to my mind and I just begin to pray for them. It’s like I can’t stop praying.
Next, those times of short constant communion with God have given me a huge desire to go to a quiet place and spend some alone time with God. Really I was surprised at how many people initially wanted to down play this as a way to pray. In fact we know that Christ Himself got alone to pray (Matthew 14:23). I have found myself hungering for that time.
I have also found that the content of my prayers has changed. I am not so much talking to God about what I would like for Him to do. I now seem to be interceding for others or just worshiping Him.
The worst thing I have noticed is the distractions to my prayer life. I can get totally distracted when I am trying to pray. Yesterday I was even distracted by thinking about what I wanted to write in this blog while I was praying! I can be praying and find my mind wandering or even find myself doing something else and thinking, “Oh yeah, I’m praying!” There are a couple of things I think we can do to battle against distractions.
One is to chose a place to pray where you are less likely to be distracted. When I pray at my desk, I can suddenly find that I’m writing a note to myself or cleaning my desk instead of praying! The last few mornings have not been too incredibly humid here in southeast Texas so I have been able to sit outside on the deck and pray. It’s pretty cool to look at the sky with an orange glow to it and talk to God while your dog sits beside you. I also have the advantage of going to the prayer room here at our church. You may not have that advantage but find somewhere that you are less distracted.
Finally, I have just concluded that we have to fight for it! It’s a battle and we need to stop surrendering. Jesus asked His disciples to watch and pray. To watch. Be on guard. Stay awake and be aware and ready for action. That is where we need to be. Just be vigilant about focusing when we pray. Taking out thoughts captive and surrendering them to Christ.
Anyhow, that is my observations of this week so far. How about you? Let me know how it has affected you. If you didn’t accept the challenge you may want to start now. I dare you. See if it does something in your prayer life. Hey, you obviously have some free time – Pray Now!