So I took a taxi to church today and as I always do everytime I have to take a taxi, I simply tell the driver "I'm going to the Church at X, it's by the Total filling Station at the roundabout". I have no idea why I always expect them to know it, because they often don't. And I say to myself ''You really should just give them the name of the street and the postcode." Anyway, we finally figure it out and half way through the 12 minute journey the taxi driver said "So are you going to church to pray or to work". I'll admit I was a bit baffled as to what the second option was. To work? For a second, I wondered if he was asking if I was a worker in church. Then I realised he meant if I was some manual worker - perhaps going in to earn a living. I responded, "To Pray" and the rest of the trip was in silence, till I had to show him the directions right by the fuel station because alas, the postcode online was wrong. I'm so sticking to my initial description next time.
Prayer is Talking to God.
It was interesting that the topic at church was also about prayer. As a Christian child, one of the first things we may learn is "prayer is talking to God". As an adult however, it seems that we tend to forget that that's all it should be. Talking to God - about everything. Our good days and achievements, our fears and our worries, our thoughts and hopes for others. Our needs.
The Need for Support in Prayer
We referred to the reading in Exodus 17: 8 - 13 when the people if Isreal were at war with the Amalekites. As long as Moses held up his hands in Prayer, success was theirs. But Moses was only human and so his arms grew weary (I can totally relate because my arms are the laziest part of my body, hence the bingo wings. If I hang them up for 5 seconds, I feel so much pain). There was a way around it though. Moses sat down, while Aaron and Hur helped hold up his arms. It reminds me of the need for a community of helpers and believers. Alone in this walk, we may grow weary. Who do we then turn to?
I'm one of those people that looked forward to getting married because I believed my prayer life will skyrocket. After all there will always be someone beside me and God will be in our midst, because where two are gathered... (Matt 18:20). I believed this because for years, the husband almost always started his day with a reading from the YouVersion Bible App and then he'd email this to me everyday. I thought this could only get better when we got married. Alas, cuddles, early morning conversations and a rush to work do get in the way. But on days I get weak, I know he's there. Asides our spouses, we must look to our larger community. Our church. Our friends. Are these people you can pray with? Are these people you actually pray with? I recently had a prayer session on Whatsapp with my few of my girlfriends and though we are separated by distances and time zones - it was such a beautiful one. I'm definitely trying to find a few more faith support networks.
Persistence in Prayer
We also referred to the parable of the widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8). Honestly, everytime I hear that story I just think of the need to be more persistent in prayer. I mean if the unjust Judge will give her justice only as a result of her persistence, how much more will God answer our prayers when we ask.
The J.O.Y model of Prayer
It's from a song "Jesus first, Yourself last and Others in between". That's the way I think our prayers should go. Jesus first. We praise Him, we thank Him. We Worship him. Admittedly, many of us skip the O and move to the Y. But let's retrace our steps. Let's learn to pray for others. We may often remember to pray for our families and our friends. For our cousins. Our pastors (Heb. 13:18). But how about those who have no ones to pray for them. For the sick. For the dying. For the homeless. For those in war-torn countries. Do we remember to spare them some thought? For our nations and our leaders (1 Tim 2:2)?
I once read an article about why we should stop telling people we'll pray for them. It easy. Because we often forget. Many times someone says 'oh I'm trying to get a job' or perhaps they are ill or depressed. Our response is usually "I'll pray for you" or "I'll remember you in my prayers". But do we really? We often forget. So if possible, let's take some time at that moment to pray. Right there and then. Either with the person if possible, or on our own. It appears that failing to pray for others may even be a sin.
I don't need to talk about the Y, You probably remember to pray for yourselves. But if you're a rare specie of human sticking only to the J and O, please pray for yourself too.
How do you Pray?
Kneeling is probably the most common. Standing up with arms raised may be a close second. Actually, many of us probably fight the urge to say our prayers under the duvet while we battle to wake up. But if we remember that prayer is talking to God, then it should be an activity that we do the whole day! And that's why I love this verse below.
It reminds me that in every single thing I can be praying. It's a model I used to adopt before. If I hated to study sitting up straight for two hours, I'll make myself do it and say "Lord I offer this 2 hour of proper study (without checking my phone) for all those who are sick / unemployed / hoping for kids". It's something I should pick up again - then I'll see my dish washing as a time of prayer rather than a chore. Another helpful conscious approach of prayer is to pick an activity and choose to say a certain type of prayer every time it happens. For example, every time you shut a door, you say a brief prayer of thanks to God for his mercies / favours till that point. Or you pray for one family member. A good way to deal with distractions in prayer is to pray about whatever is distracting you. If thoughts of your friend creep into your prayer, turn it around and pray for that person.
No one size fits all
There are so many manners of prayer, and the circumstances often determine what mode will employ. Some prayers will involve fasting and tears and high pitched voices. Others may be more mental or soft spoken and calm. In all of this, let's bear in mind that we are speaking to our Heavenly Father... and there's no one size fits all. Your sibling may have a different way of speaking to your earthly father than you do. It doesn't necessarily make one better than the other. Let's speak to him without boundaries, He wants to know how your shopping went. He wants to know your struggles. He wants to hear you thank Him for your successes.
Finally, let us not limit our prayers to Petitions - to asking. Let us remember to Praise, Worship and Thank Him. And when we ask and he finally grants out desires, let us remember, like the only Samaritan leper, the one out 10 (9 others being Jews) who were healed in Luke 17: 11 - 19, to come back and thank Him again!
I'm definitely making a more conscious effort towards prayer, and I hope you will to!
What are your thoughts? What are your favourite ways to pray?
pS: I really intended for this to be a short note, hence the title. But I guess that didn't happen.
ppS: If you're on the YouVersion bible app, let's connect. It's always great and encouraging to see what people are reading!