My view of prayer has changed quite a bit since my family began serving with WEC USA. I used to wonder how people could pray for hours on end. I thought only pastors and missionaries had time for such things. I’ve learned that pastors and missionaries also struggle with finding enough time to pray. Now I attend a Half Day of Prayer each month, and realize that at the end of those four hours, we have barely begun. My boss, Kay Negley, wrote this about the room we use for our prayer meetings:
The US headquarters’ main building, dubbed the “Castle,” is a lumbering Victorian stone mansion complete with jutting turrets and cavernous fireplaces. The Great Hall where we meet, and the adjoining dining room, are covered in sumptuous paneling–craftsmanship rarely seen these days. Throughout my tenure I’ve attended numerous weekly prayer meetings in this room and heard the pleas of God’s people on behalf of the unreached, listened to amazing stories of answered prayer, and been captivated by the stories of God’s redeeming work in the lives of His people. As I’ve listened, I’ve often had a visual of how these paneled walls must appear from a heavenly perspective—soaked in prayer, steeped in tears and glowing with a patina of God’s glory. If these walls could talk!
After reading this, I began to wonder what my prayer life would look like from a spiritual viewpoint. How about yours? Is it more like a Christmas wish-list, one request after another? Or perhaps it is more like the complaint/suggestion box—all the ways God should change your life, the world, etc. Is it just an obligation—one more item on your to-do list? Make my bed—check. Brush my teeth—check. Pray—check. Perhaps it is like the Hallelujah Chorus—one long, glorious praise session. Honestly, my prayer life has resembled each of these things at different times and has been a big mixture of each of the above at other times. I think my favorite prayer time was a half day of prayer when we determined to present every request to God with thanksgiving. Instead of telling Him the needs of various countries and missionaries (needs He already knew very well) we praised Him for knowing these needs and for walking with each of His children, reveled over passages of scripture that pertained to each request, and praised Him for what He was going to do on each person’s behalf. It was exhilarating! Instead of walking away thinking about all the problems there are in the world, I walked away thinking about what a powerful God I have!
I believe the Psalms give us a good picture of what our prayer life should look like—David sharing freely from his heart, no holds barred—the good, the bad and the ugly. God wants to be our best friend. Best friends share all the details of their lives. They laugh together, cry together, wrestle through tough issues together, and can be entrusted with the deepest thoughts of each other’s hearts, even those that aren’t very pretty.
We are told to “pray continually” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Yet surely God does not want us to quit our jobs and sit in a corner praying all day. Have you ever worked on a project with your best friend? Maybe you were building a deck on your house or scrapbooking or organizing a school event. You didn’t have to stop working to talk to each other. It just comes naturally. As you work side by side, you share whatever comes to mind, you laugh at “inside jokes” nobody else would understand—you simply enjoy being together. God has given us the privilege of working alongside of Him in whatever work we are doing. He wants us to be aware of Him at all times. When we see a beautiful rainbow or enjoy the feel of the wind blowing through our hair, He wants to hear our praise. When our hearts feels like they are being ripped out, He wants to be the shoulder we cry on. He wants to share personal jokes with us, wants us to delight in Him and delight in being His delight.
Recently on Facebook I saw this post—“Best friends. It actually hurts when we don’t talk.” Is God so much a part of your day that it would actually hurt if you could not talk to Him? When the spiritual world views my prayer life, I want them to see it stamped with BFF—a blatant reminder that nothing—“neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate [me] from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus [my] Lord” Romans 8:38—39.