January 6, 2010.
Kids in school, wife is back in the classroom...
I do not return to school officially until this Friday. But until that time, I'm working on my thesis, preparing lectures, reworking syllabi, thinking through sermon issues, outlining church health presentations and...
If 2010 is about any one specific thing, my conviction is that it has to be about prayer. I must admit, 2009 saw quite a bit of 'haphazard' praying. The frantic pace of life and all of its demands tends to squeeze the regularity out of prayer until prayer becomes a sentence or two squeezed in between bites of a bagel in the car on the way to work. Finally, prayer simply becomes a 'hopeful' afterthought in our lives. In other words, we start to just 'think' prayers, or think about praying and what a good thing that would be and convince ourselves that we have prayed somehow without actually taking the time to form and speak the words. But is that really prayer? Is that really what Paul meant, when he told the Thessalonians to "pray without ceasing"? [1 Thessalonians 5:17] Or is that what Jesus meant in Matthew 6, when he instructed us how to pray?
No. I don't believe so.
Prayer is personal address to the Father in the name of the Son in the power of the Spirit. It is verbal, it is personal and it is regular.
It is verbal in that prayer has a voice - yours. In our formation of words and uttered sounds, we are engaging in an act of obedience, we are making our requests known to God. [Philippians 4:6 & 1 John 5:15]
It is personal in that prayer reflects a relationship between our person and the person of God. It is a relationship marked by love, reverence and awe. To be 'personal', prayer demands a sacrifice of our time to be effective in the same way that our relationships demand time to be healthy. If a man wants his relationship with his wife to be healthy and strong, he communicates with her, in person, regularly and out of love. Jesus clearly took time to be with the Father in prayer. [Luke 6:12]
It is regular in that we must give prayer 'time' in our lives. When do we pray? Do we start our day with prayer? Do we take breaks in our day to find quiet spots to pray to "Our Father in Heaven"? Do we say evening prayers with our children and spouses? Do we close our day with prayers of thanksgiving for the life God has given to us that day? Without regular exercise we grow flabby and lose muscle tone. Without regular communication with our spouse, our relationship becomes distant and strained. Without regular prayer, our Christian life loses its edge until finally it exhibits no power at all.
So as much as we want to lose weight and exercise this new year; why don't we work on our prayer lives the same way? If we do, we will not only see our bodies, but also our relationship with God become even stronger this new year!