I love the soft, sweet voice of the Lord when he wakes me in the wee hours of the morning and whispers, “Shh, get up. Let’s sneak away together and spend some time alone. Just you and me.” Oh that time alone with Him is some of the most peaceful, enjoyable, satisfying hours in my week. To think that the Lord – the one who created the universe – would desire to “sneak away” with me, to spend quiet time alone with me simply takes my breath away! Sounds more like a romance than prayer, doesn’t it?
I think that Christians as a whole have been taught that prayer is a difficult thing. It is something that we must work at, something that requires sacrifice on our part. It seems complicated and difficult; and while we know that the end result will be wonderful, prayer really doesn’t seem like much fun. Growing up, that has been my view of prayer. It is a duty, an obligation, something expected of all Christians. Prayer is expected to grow and increase as one matures in the faith. It comes with formulas and rules and requirements. And yes, it is a privilege to come boldly before the throne of God, but it is difficult, or is it?
Five or ten years ago, if anyone would have told me I would be a pray-er or a prayer leader, I would have laughed in his/her face. I could not sustain 30 min of prayer time on my own and when I prayed with other believers my mind wandered and my thoughts went other places: What was it I needed from the store? Did I finish everything on that to do list? Will this prayer thing take much longer? Sound familiar? But then the Lord began to teach me and I saw such wonderful things happen in the realm of prayer! It was so amazing. I developed some stamina and focus. I learned to follow the Holy Spirit as he led and in doing so, I found myself having the most interesting times praying. But prayer was still something that I did. It was an action that I initiated.
God is so wonderful in that He is always ready to teach us, to bring us to a new and higher understanding of spiritual things. But He waits until we are ready to move forward. He never pushes us.
Personally, I have enjoyed such an increased time in prayer over the past six months I can hardly believe it. To sneak into my prayer room on a Saturday morning and come out three or four hours later thinking “Where did the time go?” was such a strange phenomena. But I loved it! Until just recently. Recently it began to feel like work. And it doesn’t take much time for “works” to become dead. Prayer was becoming difficult and, well, not fun. Lord, what happened?
And there it was – His opportunity to teach me because I was ready to move forward.
I have a quote by Sarah Thiessen framed in my prayer room that reads: “I am the object of the desperate, passionate love of the creator of the universe who gave His life so that He could be intimate with me.”
How’s that for a statement! Read it again. It applies to you as well. God is passionate about each of us and His desire is to be intimate with us on a regular basis! When I first began to consider this, it seemed almost – wrong. Words like “passionate” and “intimate” were words used between lovers, they represented a spiritual taboo so to speak. It was just wrong to think about my relationship with the Lord on that level – intimate and passionate. But that is how He thinks of us.
So, how does this relate to prayer? What if prayer is NOT something that we do? What if prayer is a place that we go? What if we stopped going to pray and instead went to spend intimate time with the Lord? Very different concepts, yes?
And that is exactly the point the Lord was making with me. “Stop trying to ‘pray’ to ‘do something’. Instead, come to this ‘place’, to ‘prayer’ and spend time with me.” That shift in mindset changes prayer from a thing I do to a relationship I have. If prayer is relational, then I do not need to worry about rules and formulas and agendas and all of the other things attached to prayer in the name of religion. And I don’t have to organize it or develop procedures for it. My private prayer time is just that – private, between God and myself, and I am learning to just follow Him during that time.
So, you might be wondering what in the world that looks like. The appearance varies considerably, depending on how the Lord leads. Sometimes it is hours long and sometimes it is considerably shorter. It is the time I sit and have quiet conversation with God as I read the Word and He teaches me, giving me revelation I would never have on my own. It is the time spent in praise and worship where I lift my voice and my hands and my heart to the lover of my soul. It is the time spent on my knees and in tears as He leads me to intercede for others, or as He shows me areas of my life requiring repentance and surrender. It is the time spent speaking and singing in tongues as the Holy Spirit gives utterance. It is the time spent writing journal entries as He helps me collect, compile and process all that He has been teaching me. And sometimes it is the time His peace descends upon me so heavily and so sweetly that I can hear Him whisper, “Go ahead, close your eyes and rest. I’ll wake you up again.” It is time dedicated to Him in which I aim to follow His lead and do what He wants to do. Wow! It almost sounds like a date, doesn’t it? There is that romance thing again.
That small shift in mindset has changed everything! It has resuscitated my “prayer life.” Prayer is NOT something I do; it is a place that I go to spend intimate time with the Lord as He directs. And His direction tends to cover everything the Word says about what prayer should be.