The hardest thing I’ve had to commit to is daily prayer. I know that might come as a shock to some, but this isn’t a letter to glorify or talk myself up. It’s meant to be honest. I believe in prayer and its power. I try to encourage people to pray regularly and the value and power that regular prayer provides in our everyday life. However, when it comes to prayer-regular and consistent relational prayer with God-I fall short more often than I would like to admit. How can someone who teaches Bible studies, lead a Sunday school class and write devotions on how to lead people to better relationship with God and not have consistent relational prayer with God.
It’s simply complicated by my own design.
I get caught up in this life. I work 8 hours a day and there is not always time to take out to pray in that time. I have two kids at home and I want to spend time with them playing and relating with them. I have a wife who I try to give as much time kid and work free as I can. I go to church 3 times a week and spend it praising, worship and learning about God I read devotional books about God, too. I prepare for Bible studies, Sunday school lessons, and devotions. In the midst of that, I spend time catching up on my favorite shows, videos and literature. After all of that’s over, there’s sleep (and not enough of it).
So what I am supposed to give up?
Yet how can I afford to sacrifice my relationship with God?
I kept trying to parse through how to cut back and prioritize. There were plans made and put into practice. They worked for weeks sometimes. Other times they lasted for months. There were those that barely made it days. Some never even got off the ground. My plans. My ways. My understanding. Even with the best of intentions, they came to naught. That’s when I came to the realization. It’s not a year ago realization. It’s not a month ago realization. It’s a now realization.
This personal prayer cannot just be vain repetitions, a litany of needs or items to check off. It must be a true praise and worship filled conversation. I need to bare my soul to God. To let him know all that is going on within me and the things that are happening outside of me. He is able to see and know it all, but He still wants to hear from me. He wants to know me. I have to open up to Him and not just rest on that knowledge of God’s omnipotence. Only through opening up, being honest and having a loving conversation with God can I see things in my life truly blossom to their fullest potential.
But how do I bring God into these already complicated areas? Where is the time to get away to just be with Him? I have come to realize that God doesn’t want us to escape our lives to be with Him. He wants to come into and immerse Himself in our lives so we can be fulfilled in Him.
Here’s how I have begun this new perspective
Commit your work to the LORD, and then your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3)
Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (Colossians 3:23)
At my job, there are opportunities when I am alone. I can pray out loud in those moments. When working or communicating with others, I can pray in my heart and mind. Simple praises and worship to God. Calls for discernment and understanding of how to handle my tasks. God is waiting to hear me if I will open up my mouth, my heart and my mind to speak to Him. He will bless my actions at work. It will lead to reward, but it may not be what I expect. It may be that I find my job becomes easier to accomplish allowing me to get to more opportunities to pray to Him. That’s a greater reward than a higher wage or further advancement in position. Those things may come, but the greatest reward is that of greater relationship with Christ.
Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children (Psalms 90:16)
I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth (2 John 1:4)
When I’m with my children, I can pray and teach them to pray. What a great reward. However, as I play with them, I can praise God for what He has blessed me with verbally and inwardly. I can dedicate and rededicate my children and their lives to God. I can open my mind to understanding of how to raise my children, to be merciful as my Father is merciful, to protect and empower my children. The reward may lead to less contention between myself and them down the road. It might be that my children turn into the people and ministers God desires them to become. Definitely, though, by praying as I spend time with my children, my relationship with God will intertwine with my relationship with my children. It will allow me to see my children in the proper light and it will also allow me to see my relationship with God as His child in the proper light! To understand how much God loves me, His child, is wonderful.
Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD (Proverbs 18:22)
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also love the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25)
When I’m with my wife, I can and do pray with her to strengthen our bond as a couple and our commitment to God. However, I can pray and praise God while I spend time with her. I can give thanks for a godly woman who loves the way of righteousness and relationship with God. I can speak to God all of my concerns over our marriage, but also to seek how I should relate with her, lead our marriage and make decisions as the leader of our home. As I pray to God, He will reveal my wife in the proper light and He will reveal me to her as well. We’ll see each other exactly as God wants us to see each other. Moreover, I will see God as the bridegroom to my life. If I can see fleshly marriage in its purest quality through the filter of God, I will see my espousal to God in the proper perspective.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name (Psalms 100:4)
I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee (Hebrews 2:12)
When I bring personal prayer into the church, I will not be going against the unity of the church. As the songs play, I can pray to God through the filter and leading of that song. Whether through singing the lyrics with the actual passion I have for God or by speaking to God through the filter of that song’s theme, I can have my own personal time with God while marching in unity with my fellow congregates as we grow closer to God. As the minister preaches, I can pray silently that the Lord would speak to me through the minister’s message and scriptures he uses. This will allow me to see church for the value that it truly holds: a place where I can have an open and easy path to connection with God for my own personal development. It will also develop me within the Body, but it will draw me closer to God personally.
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our handsupon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. (Psalms 90:17)
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; (1 Timothy 1:12)
When I practice my ministries, I can and must bring personal prayer into them. In this area, I have done a decent job of praying to God for leading. It’s brought the words out that God desires for me to speak/write that will help develop/lead others to God. However, I can actually see my relationship with God develop through these practices when I add that personal prayer. By speaking to God relationally, it will further enrich my words to better match the tone and tenor of Christ. Moreover, it will reveal Christ to me all the more as I write (this is happening right now as I write this). How wonderful to see God more clearly as we serve Him! To have the proper perspective of the servant/Master relationship. It can only come through personal relationship while in that practice.
Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him (Psalms 37:7)
And [Jesus] said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while (Mark 6:31)
While I’m considering what to watch, listen to or read for enjoyment, if I will pray God will steer me away from things that will harm my walk with Him. He’ll steer me towards things that will engage my mind and passions in ways that enrich my relationship with Him. It will also allow me to see the God or rest side of Christ in a new light. To truly understand peace, joy and harmony – all things that come through rest and relaxation. I won’t come away from my times of recreation feeling unfulfilled or empty. I’ll come away ready to get back involved in the areas of my life and I’ll bringing a renewed purpose in God with me; a purpose that can’t come from work or conversation with others, but only rest in God.
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell safely. (Psalms 4:8)
And as I lay down myself to sleep, I can quiet my mind with prayer and praise to the Almighty. Thanks to Him who developed me in all of those areas I have already written about. Areas that I haven’t ever realized were there or that needed His touch. Having that summarizing moment with God will help me to place my entire life into proper perspective. The perspective that God is the author and finisher of me. He writes my story with my job, my family, my godly pursuits and my own enjoyments of life. God is the compass, but He is also the polls that pull that compass. God is my direction and my destination. That is my new plan. I hope you make it yours as well.
The Importance of Alone Time with God
Let me finish this by saying that I still look for time alone with God. If it means waking up early instead of hitting the snooze button. If it means sitting in my car at lunch or right after work. If it means foregoing sleep for another 30 minutes. Whatever it takes, time alone with God and with nothing else going on is important and necessary. I alternate between the aforementioned options based on what is available. Christ sometimes got up early. He sometimes went away right after doing His work. Other times, he waited to head to his next destination in order to take time for reflection and prayer. Life isn't always easy to schedule. Just like with the list of items above, we all have to look for the openings available to us from day to day. Whether it is in the early hours, the late moments of the evening or somewhere in between, we just have to be available to God. He will be available to us.
We hope you have enjoyed this honest look at my prayer life and I hope it helps fellow Christians who have similar difficulties with finding time alone with God. I know that you are all wondering what is coming next for TWTL and I can tell you we will have a couple of special posts in December and will launch back into regular posting in January, starting with our coverage of BOTT at the Pentecostals of Alexandria! Have a Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless and Keep Searching!
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.