A Time to Pray
I realise that the title for this post may lead to a question: ‘Isn’t it always a time to pray?’ And of course the answer to that would be a resounding: ‘Yes!’ Because for followers of Jesus – as His teaching makes clear – it is not a case of: ‘If you pray…’ but: ‘When you pray…’ And yet times like Advent, Lent would be similar, are good times to proactively and deliberately up our prayer game: to spend increased time seeking God in prayer; listening for His voice; and interceding for the world.
And yet this is such a busy time of year: in fact, if I had a quid for every time someone said to me ‘this is your busy time of year’ I might be able to give my stipend back to the church in its entirety! But the busyness isn’t just mine, because it seems that all across society folk are rushing around, be it to get things finished at work before some time off; to finish buying the Christmas presents; or to make the final preparations for the parties and celebrations. And it is into this busyness that I want to make the provocative challenge to a prophetic action: stop and pray.
Now I know there might not be time… I have a full on day today including a funeral; meetings all day tomorrow; and was working last night and tomorrow night (and I don’t like to do three nights out in a row). And so I thought this morning that given all this busyness that I might give our prayer time tonight a miss; only to be reminded of the title of one of the (many) unread books on the shelf in my study: Too busy not to pray.
And as I remembered that title it was like the Holy Spirit gave me a kick up the backside to remind me that prayer isn’t something I fit around my busyness; it is what fuels me and sustains me to get through periods like this. Not to pray in this most busy of seasons would be akin to starting a long car journey with the fuel warning light on but to think I could keep on driving anyway. And so understanding that you’re busy; and recognising that there are lots of other things to do (some of them – but not all – actually quite important!) can I invite you into this challenge: to make time to pray; to carve it out each day; to make it your priority – because it really is…all the rest is just pretending to be.
I want to leave you with a final thought adapted from a challenge that I read this morning to pray more than our use of screen/social media time and which I think is so apt for a season of celebration and partying:
Will we pray more than we party?
Because there is nothing wrong with the partying or the celebrating; and sometimes there is nothing wrong with the busyness in our lives. And yet all of these things are seriously misplaced if they become our focus, pushing prayer to the periphery of our lives rather than being at the absolute centre…