When our schedules overload what practices of our faith are we most likely to set aside?
I’ll confess there are mornings where my quiet time with God gets deleted. Perhaps I slept late —the blankets were at just the right temperature and the pillows resisted the weight of my head with just the right amount of force. Maybe I had commitments early in the morning so the day started with a mad rush. I know I should have planned better, hit the off button on the alarm and swung my feet to the floor rather than sleepily mashing the snooze button half a dozen times. Surely skipping out on God one or two mornings is not that big a deal. I promise myself not to make a practice of it, and besides I can pray while I drive. (A practice this author highly recommends based on the bumper crop of overcrowded roads and distracted drivers. But please, keep your eyes open while praying.)
In the last few weeks I have encountered our Lord praying in Scripture. Seems wherever I turn and whatever devotional I read there He is, on His knees, talking with the Father. Consider these snapshots from the life of Christ.
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Mark 1:35
But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16
It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12
In the hustle of daughter Michelle’s wedding I found myself alone for a few minutes at a table with granddaughter Fern and sleeping grandson August. I had completed the long walk down the aisle with my daughter holding my arm, a hard assignment for any father. She would make the return trip holding her new husband’s arm. As guests gathered in the reception hall I delivered the father of the bride speech. I even filled in at the last minute to offer the blessing for the food, something the pastor was supposed to do but he had bolted for another wedding. Now, with food on our plates, Fern and I were ready for some sit-down and recharge.
Fern took her first bite and looked up with shock on her face. “Grandpa, we forgot to pray!” I reminded her that I had just prayed though we did not join hands as Fern is accustomed to. (I found out later that Grandma and Fern did hold hands as Grandpa prayed.) Fern, relieved that we had indeed prayed, turned back to her food with zeal.
And I had to sit a while before I could take a bite due to the large lump in my throat. What a blessing that Fern’s parents have taught her that our food comes from God, and that thanking Him before we dig in is important. Fern does not have a grasp on theology, but she is aware that God is real and that He loves our acknowledgement of His provision. And she intends to make giving of thanks her habit. You go, girl!
With Jesus praying so often his disciples could not help but notice. I am certain they stumbled upon Him and interrupted at times before they grasped the bigger picture that the Savior considered prayer of utmost importance. Then they wanted to try it for themselves.
It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1
From that encounter came the Lord’s Prayer as we like to call it. Jesus gave his disciples an example and Matthew and Luke recorded the details. A slow study through the phrases that make up this prayer will yield a bounty of amazing doctrine. I stall very often with the first two words, “Our Father,” amazed that we can refer to Him that way.
Note that asking God for daily bread pops up in the center of the prayer. I like to eat. Preferably multiple times every day. If I can so focus on my physical needs, why not show the same concern over the spiritual side of life?
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, Luke 18:1
Seems like Fern is on to something. What a smart little girl.