Prayer. I find it so hard.
My prayer journey over the decades has been fraught with difficulties and failures, but at the same time has opened up for me some fascinating and marvellous experiences.
Ever since I was a kid, I have been encouraged to pray and have been taught the deep value of prayer. I can remember my dad buying me a little notebook when I was in primary school. He sat down with me at the kitchen table to divide the pages into seven sections, one for each day of the week. We then assigned people, groups and world needs to each of the days. I used this book to guide my prayers each morning or evening, starting with praise, then thanksgiving, then requests. I recorded answers to my prayers at the back of the book. This method instilled in me discipline, but it required so many words from me. Words, words, words! If prayer was so important, why was it so hard?
When I was young we had an unspoken motto in our family: if the church opened its doors, we were there. This included the Wednesday evening prayer meeting. I was usually the only kid among a bunch of adults. The prayers seemed to go on and on for hours –so much talking I had trouble staying awake. More words! I often wondered if God got mad with me because I got bored. In my more daring moments I wondered if God got bored, too! Why didn’t God sit down with me and have a normal two-way conversation?
Since then, more than four decades have passed. I’m older and bolder. My prayer journey has had many twists and turns.
A little while ago I came to live and work in South-East Asia. ‘Allahu Akbar Ash-hadu an-la ilaha illa llag …’ The call to prayer reverberates out from the mosques five times a day. It is a constant reminder that people who have surrendered to God have a life centered on prayer, time with God. Listening to the call (there is nowhere here where you can miss it!) is slowly working towards a change in me. Five times a day I am reminded that I must continually surrender to God if I am to have any influence here as a follower of Jesus.
Read the full story in the October edition.