If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say (or said myself), "I know I need to pray more ...," I would no doubt be a great deal richer than I am, if not a millionaire! I just found myself saying it again yesterday, which prompted my thoughts in that direction afresh. Why don't I?
Surely it’s not simply that I don’t have time. We all take time for the things that are
pleasurable for us, don't we? I certainly do. Is it that, despite my good intentions, prayer is just not a enough of a delight to me?
Kind of ironic, isn't it? Prayer is all around me. I write about prayer. I lead prayer. I'm involved with prayer ministry. But that doesn't mean it's any easier for me than for the next person to slow down and spend that one-on-one time in intimate conversation with God. When life gets busy and I get distracted, I can be as guilty as anyone of slipping into a religious routine,
and prayer becomes something to check off my to-do list (never a good motivation for me). Or I need something, which makes it all about me (also not a great motivation). God, HELP!
I love it that God is gracious. (Translation: He is undeterred by my ambivalence, laziness, busy-ness, or mixed motives.) Isaiah 30:19 says, “How gracious (God) will be when you cry for help. As soon as He
hears you, He will answer you!” What a relief! When I get encouragement like that, it inspires me to drop my reticence (and my crazy schedule), run into His presence, and tell Him all the things that are on my heart and mind. No condemnation. He sees my frailty; He is mindful that I am dust (Ps. 103:14). Whew!
So what brings me back to the place of prayer--intimate prayer--with God? It's not guilt. It's anticipation. I find it helps me to think of Him waiting for me expectantly, the way the father waited daily at the gate for the prodigal son (Luke 15). I may not be prodigal in life, but there are times when I know I have been prodigal in prayer. Yet God is always waiting for me, thinking of me. I love how David calls it out in Psalm 139:17-18, "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!" (NASB). Prayer is not just about me telling Him what's on my mind. It's hearing all the amazing things that are on His!
Wow. Why waste my time counting a dollar for other people's thoughts? It's God's thoughts toward me that are the immeasurable treasure. That's the motivation I need to keep me coming back into His presence daily to find out what those precious, vast, and intimate thoughts are. He delights to share them with me--if only I delight to sit down with Him and ask...