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Our pastor preached on prayer at church yesterday. It was good for all of us in the congregation, I think,  to do a bit of a self-check on how well (and how regularly) we’re communicating with God these days.  It’s easy, isn’t it, to get stuck in a rut? Or get sidetracked all together! (Hmmm …  Should I pray, or check Facebook …?)

Don’t laugh.  I’ll bet it’s a more common choice than you think.  Both give you a relational fix but I’ll bet the devil is sure hoping we’ll all pick Facebook! (Don’t get me wrong. I like Facebook. I’m just talking priorities here.)

So, I’ll pass along to you the question we considered in church yesterday. How’s YOUR prayer life lately?  Are you on a roll … or feeling kind of dry? If it’s the latter,  don’t be too hard on yourself! And don’t give up entirely. We all have seasons where prayer is more of a challenge than at other times.  Thankfully, we have a God who loves to make “streams in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19), especially when those deserts are our own hearts.

Here’s a little self-evaluation I developed a few years ago when I was a columnist and editor for Pray! magazine. I’m posting it here so you can use it, if you like, to assess and figure out if (and where) your own prayer life might need a boost.

If you’re “booming”—great! But if your prayer life is a bit of a bust lately, I hope you’ll be encouraged to pick up the Conversation again.

Boom

  • I consider my prayer life a unique and important expression of my own individual relationship with God. It’s okay to be different from other people because I am unique to God.
  • I know God’s answers sometimes look different than I expect, and sometimes His no’s simply mean, “Be patient; trust Me.”
  • I know when I walk through dark valleys, God is there to comfort and protect me. I take advantage of His promises and presence as much as possible.
  • I am delighted that God allows me to be a part of His human-divine cooperative. I believe He uses my prayers to accomplish His purposes on earth!
  • God is so much more than a heavenly 911. When there’s no crisis, I spend time thanking Him, listening for His voice, and praying for other people’s needs. After all, it’s not all about me.

Bust

  • I think God’s already mad at me for how little I pray, so why bother to try to make up for lost time?
  • I compare my prayer life to others in terms of my desire and perceived ability to pray—and I come up short every time. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good as they are.
  • I prayed hard for some important things and never got the answers I was looking for. I’ve given up trying.
  • God seems remote in the midst of this hard time I’m facing.  I’m really not able to connect. My pain, grief (resentment, injustice, etc.) are the only things I can feel right now.
  • God’s in control of everything, after all.  Why should my prayers make any difference? Whether I pray or don’t pray is immaterial.
  • I pray when there’s a crisis, but things are going fine now so I don’t find myself  needing to pray much.

If you checked any items on the BUST list, recognizing them is the first step to walking out of wrong thinking about prayer and into alignment with God’s heart and mind. I think, for me, the most important thing to remember when it comes to keeping up a regular flow of communication with God (i.e., “prayer”) is that it’s NOT ABOUT PERFORMANCE.  It’s not about meeting some kind of standard, or measuring up to anyone’s expectations.  So no condemnation!

Prayer is first and foremost about relationship. David (whom the Bible calls “a man after God’s own heart) had it right when he said, “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming” (Psalm 27:8). I love that verse!

If you’re “booming” when it comes to prayer—great! But if your prayer life is a bit of a bust lately, I hope you’ll be encouraged to pick up the Conversation again. It’s better than Facebook.  Really.

Here’s a thought: If you want to work on developing your relationship with God through prayer (or help someone else work on theirs), you need to check out Cynthia Bezek's new book, Prayer Begins with Relationship.  It’s an easy, engaging read designed to walk you (and a group of friends, if you want to do it as a group) through growing your prayer life in a wonderfully life-giving way.

I hope you’ll check it out.  But most of all, I hope you’ll check IN with God if you’ve not been doing so much lately.  I think you’ll Both be glad you did. 

:-)

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Comment by Carol Justice on March 27, 2012 at 9:56pm

I also really love Ruth Leamy's idea of praying for the people who are posting on Facebook!  I will be doing that, for sure!  Thanks a million!! 

Comment by Arlyn Lawrence on March 27, 2012 at 8:58pm

Ruth, what a great idea!  Love it!  Thanks for sharing.  :-)

Comment by Ruth J Leamy on March 27, 2012 at 7:07pm

Sometimes I scroll down my news feed and pray for the people who are posting on Facebook.

Comment by Arlyn Lawrence on February 18, 2012 at 11:55am

Thank for the comments; I appreciate the feedback!

Carol, in her comment, mentions "checking emails and newspaper headlines before quiet time ... my mind and spirit felt fragmented and concentration was difficult." THAT HAS EXACTLY BEEN MY EXPERIENCE and, as I am discovering, that of many many others. These days, we don't just need "quiet time" with the Lord, we need UNPLUGGED time!   ~Arlyn

Comment by Paula Gast on February 18, 2012 at 11:05am

Very practical points. Also, great to find Cynthia Bezek's book, Prayer Begins with Relationship. It seems right on target! Thank you!

Comment by Carol Justice on February 17, 2012 at 7:46pm

When anyone mentions prayer or when I read articles on it or verses in the Bible on prayer, it calls me in such a dynamic way.  I have such a calling within my spirit to pursue this business of prayer, but I feel like I lack so much when it really comes right down to it.  The title "Pray...or check Facebook" speaks to my recent experience!  I used to always get out of bed in the mornings and could hardly wait until I got that cup of coffee and sat down with my Lord for our special time together.  Then I began to check my emails and maybe read the newspaper headlines before heading for my quiet time.  Soon, I discovered my mind and spirit felt fragmented and concentration was difficult.  So, now I'm back to going straight to my Secret Place.  It makes a difference!! 

 

My greatest difficulty is not usually in the quality of my quiet time; it is as I go through my day.  My greatest desire is to have a quietness within my spirit as I go through my day, being continually sensitive to listen for His voice to me, giving Him a chance to speak to me before I speak to others.  But, often times I fail so miserably in this.  I go everywhere in a hurry.  I speak before I pause to give Him time to speak to me.  My husband, who passed away a number of years ago, would almost always pause a moment before he answered anyone and this gave God a chance to speak to him.  So, in this area particularly, I am not even close to where I want to be!  But, I'm working on it and praying that He will prompt me and I will listen.  The times when I have acted from HIS prompting, rather than my own, have been so blessed!   

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