I think God's been trying to tell me something. I keep getting messages about prayer. It was coming through clear as I read Brady Boyd's book Addicted to Busy over my vacation. Then our Executive Pastor preached on prayer at my church while I was away. My conscience started whispering to me. I have once again allowed myself to get "too busy to pray."
Prayer is the central activity of the Christian.
Secularists who doubt the existence of God see prayer as a meditative, centering exercise. Spiritualists view it as some way we humans manipulate the energies of the universe--"I'm sending my thoughts and prayers." Some believers see prayer as a divine vending machine, a mercenary exchange in which the right words or attitudes of the heart force God to release blessings. It is none of those things. Prayer is communion with God. It is time spent at home with God. It is friendship, fellowship, loving intimacy, with the God who made you and knows you and loves you.
Prayer is the central activity of the church. Do you pray for your church? You say, our church isn't reaching new people or helping the lost find their way to God. Well, are you praying for your church's effectiveness at that? Do you pray that God uses your church to reach the next generation? "Our pastor isn't preaching well." Do you pray for your pastor? Do you pray for your pastor's study time, clear thinking and deep passion to communicate the Word of God? "Our worship isn't moving me." Do you pray for your worship leaders and for the hours of worship to be powerfully filled with the Holy Spirit? One of the easiest ways to evaluate the health of a church is to ask its leaders "What is your church praying for?" The church will not thrive without prayer.
I have just returned from vacation with my family to a very special place for us. It is a small house on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay that my wife's parents have owned since the 1980s. As a family, we have spent at least one week there every summer since Abigail and I were engaged in 1995. For our kids, for our family, for me, it is a centering place. For all our travels and moves and adventures following Jesus, when we get back there each year we remember again who we are. There is an attachment between my identity and that place. I'm grateful.
Prayer is like that place where you feel most yourself. When you climb like a child into the lap of your Father God in prayer, smile up at Him as He smiles down on you, feel His warm embrace and strength all around you, know His advocacy and support underneath you...when you look into His eyes and see your own face reflected...you know yourself again. You are home.
It is no wonder when the disciples had a quiet moment with Jesus, they asked Him directly: "Lord, teach us to pray." Luke 11:1 Take some time to pray. In my busiest seasons, it can be as simple as praying the Lord's Prayer over and over in the car during a commute. Take time. Linger. Pray.
'And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?" ' Mark 11:17