One of the decisions I made at the start of this new year was to spend more time with God in prayer. For a number of months towards the end of 2012, I had been feeling spiritually dry and I was taught that the one way to overcome spiritual dryness is to spend more time in prayer. Now let me tell you, this was very hard for me. I always felt that prayer was something I had to do: a religious act so to speak. To be fair, discipline is required in order to grow and mature in any facet of life but it was difficult for me to find the line between spiritual discipline and religiosity. This may sound crazy to some of you but I actually don’t believe in “religion”. When Jefferson Bethke’s “Why I Love God but Hate Religion” blew up on youtube, it was like someone was reading my journal to me. However I digress (which you will find I often do). So back to prayer, I had a conversation with the Kikster who was also struggling with a similar problem and she told me that we have to be strategic about growing our relationship with God. As we grow older, we get busier but we still need to make out time to hang out with the people we love. It then follows that God should be the #1 person we make an appointment to hang out with.
For many years, before I started taking my relationship with God seriously (in what I call my B.C – before Christ days) I struggled with finding the line between religion and spirituality. I thought it was alright for church to be boring and prayer was something I had to get through so I wouldn’t have to lie to my mum when she asked me if I had prayed. It was also something I did so I could have one over my friends. I felt that I was better than them because I prayed “everyday”. Was I a pharisee or what? You see, God isn’t one for outward appearances, He searches the heart and is more interested in the people who know they’re absolute crap without Him than those who think that are wonderful and so deserve the blessings they have and more. My point is this: prayer is meant to be some real one-on-one time with God and there really should be no ulterior motives or else I’m just wasting my time. God pays attention to my prayers when my heart is set on just spending time with Him and being real with Him. So I can talk to Him about anything from boys to my clothes, my parents and how I feel about Him. I can be angry, sad or moody. I can sit, stand, kneel, lie down, whatever. What He wants me to bring to the table is myself.
Having said all this, I can acknowledge that it was not easy for me to accept that I needed to spend more time praying so I kept putting off developing a strategy until the new year started. I knew that I couldn’t put it off any longer for a number of reasons but the most important one was because I knew God had many plans for me this year and if I didn’t spend quality time with Him to know His mind and receive instruction and strategy, I would miss out on many opportunities. So with that in mind, I came up with a plan. Starting January 2013, I would pray for 40 minutes (apart from the time spent reading my devotionals and writing in my journals) and increase this by 2 minutes every new month until I’m spending an hour a day in prayer.
Now, I’m not sharing this because I want you to think I’m some extra spiritual person. The truth of the matter is that there are days when I’m able to stick to this and other days when I don’t. It’s especially hard during the weekends because I wake up earlier on those days. However, I see everyday as a new day and a new opportunity and each time I falter, I get up. Those days that I’m able to stick to it, I give God the glory because outside His grace I can do nothing. That’s one thing I know for a fact and not just some religious anecdote. So even if you’re praying five minutes a day, see if you can raise it to 10. If you’re doing 20, see if you can do 22. Don’t look at other people and try to do exactly what they’re doing. Keep your eyes on God and His plans for you and ask for the grace to keep moving. At the end of the day, God wants you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. If He wanted you to be like someone else, He wouldn’t have created you.
Finally, I can say that there is marked difference in my life since I started spending more time in prayer. I’m more spiritually sensitive and I can detect when Satan is trying to distract or attack me with things that the world would see as harmless. I’m also more productive and a more comfortable version of myself. Prayer is honestly the best kinda medicine. It might not seem pleasant at first but if you hunker down and ask God for His grace, you’ll see yourself doing more than you ever dreamed. I assure you.
“For Training the body helps a little, but godly living [which includes praying] helps in every way. Godly
living has the promise of [abundant] life now and in the world to come.” – 1 Tim 4:8
Alright guys, that’s it for me today. I hope this speaks to someone and as always, please feel free to leave any comments and ask any questions and I’ll get back to you 🙂
God bless you