When you don’t feel like praying.

Image result for prayer

How are your personal, daily, invigorating quiet times going?  Are you a spiritual rock star who prays without ceasing, who rises before the sun every morning to pray and meditate, who memorizes large passages of Scripture and takes notice of the Holy Spirit in every situation?  If so, I want to be more like you and you can stop reading.

The rest of us, however, seem to go through seasons of feast and seasons of famine.  Times when we are excited and eager to read the Bible and pray and talk to everyone we meet about Jesus and times when we get caught up in going to school, buying houses, raising kids, and the day-to-day.

I am a FTM (First Time Mom, for those who do not frequent the motherhood websites).  My precious baby girl just turned six months old and I have a confession to make:  she has rocked my schedule and routine.  Before she came along I was a machine.  I love change and adventure but wherever I find myself I dream big and develop daily habits.  I need routines to be successful so my morning coffee, quiet time and exercise get drafted into my day whether I am living in the middle of the tropical rain forest or working a 9-5 in Denver.

However I was not prepared for this life-change they call motherhood.  My pregnancy was a difficult one that left me on bed rest, sick and delivering a month early.  You can read more about that here.  And after a week in the NICU when we brought home our five pound baby who needed to eat every two hours to thrive, I had no dream or plan of a schedule.  I existed in a fog, trying to keep both of us alive.  I have a confession:  I did not want to read the Bible.

I know, you are shocked.  How can a person call herself a Christian and say that she does not want to read the Bible or have a quiet time?  I’ll tell you how:  I had grown so accustomed to my hour-long routine of study, prayer and sermon listening which was concluded in another hour of blog writing that I thought anything less was not worthy of my effort.  Quite honestly it sounded exhausting.  A well meaning friend asked me how I was adjusting Spiritually after a month or so and I confessed to her that I had been neglecting my routine.  She spoke some beautifully comforting words to me:  give yourself some grace.

You see, I am an academic at heart.  I love to study.  And as such I have always struggled with prayer.  I trust the sovereign plan of God and prayer often feels like lip service because He already knows every hair on my head and every intention of my heart.  But the moment I found out I was sick and that my baby was in danger, my prayer life radically changed.  I prayed.  And I cried.  And I prayed.  And I cried some more.  Then we watched our little baby in the NICU and we prayed some more.  We prayed.  My husband and I have tried (and failed) for two years to develop a prayer routine in our marriage, but the minute she was born we locked into a beautiful habit of regular prayer together.

Our Spirituality and our relationship with God must grow and develop.  It is not static, and God is not interested in providing us salvation from Hell apart from a relationship with Him whereby He changes and refines us.

I was growing in my prayer life.  And I knew that I wanted to develop good habits and set a good example for my daughter.  Have you heard that routines are good for babies too?  So what did we do?  For the next few months, my daily quiet times were made up of reading Bible story picture books with my daughter who seemed to enjoy looking at the colors and pictures.  But God was faithful and spoke just as dynamically to me through “Noah and the Big Boat” as the study on Hebrews I did last year.

We need to be coming to and relying on God for our joy, for our strength, and for our comfort.  We need to be confessing our sins to Him and rejoicing in His forgiveness.  We need to be changing.

“I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words.”

– Ps 119.147

We will only find true peace and ability to persevere if we remain in and abide in Christ:

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

– John 15.4

But remember to consider your circumstances and seasons.  There will be times when you have an abundance of energy and time to spend hours in deep study.  There will also be times when you have to wake up every two hours to feed an infant and cannot think beyond putting on a house coat.  God is gracious and wants to meet with us and encourage us in all of those circumstances.  He might even get as bored with our normal routines as we do!  He will sustain us differently in these different seasons and in the ways we approach Him.

So instead of beating yourself up for missing a quiet time or intensive study one day, let’s consider today.  Let’s forget what is behind and press on to what is ahead (Phil 3.13)!  Let’s see where God is at work around us and meet Him there.  Let’s allow Him to develop our Spirituality by adjusting to our circumstances and let’s give ourselves grace for those occasions when we are not Spiritual rock stars.  We are all still a work in progress, and it is God Himself who is at work within us:

“…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

– Phil 2.13

Have you praised God this morning?

morning

I know, I know, you are just not a morning person.  It is hard to roll out of bed and you are still waking up on your commute in to work.  Or perhaps you love mornings and you bounce out of bed ready to face the day!  Whatever your disposition, have you taken time to talk to and praise God this morning?

The LORDS loving kindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

– Lam 3.22-23

The mercy of the Lord and His compassion is new every morning.  This is a wonderful truth to which we should cling earnestly.  As we crawl into bed at the end of the day, we should be thanking Him for the blessings of the day, repenting of our sin and wickedness from the day, and laying down to reflect on the things that He has taught us and resting in His comfort.  But in the morning, we must turn immediately to Him to refresh our Spirits, to praise Him, to commit our days to Him.  His mercies are new every morning, so we need to soak them up.  Bask in His presence.  Take the time to set our hearts and minds on Him and His will, to reflect on His grace and salvation and come into His presence.

“In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”

– Ps 5.3

David gave us a beautiful example of every morning rising, no matter his circumstances.  We should always get up to “eagerly watch” throughout the day.  What is God doing around you?  How can you get involved in His work around you, today?  Are you rejoicing?  Are you mourning?  Are you just going through the mundane?  God is at work around you, so take a moment to ask Him to reveal what He is doing and how you can join Him.

“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.”

– Mark 1.35

Jesus also made it a daily habit to get up and spend time with the Lord before going about His earthly ministry.  God Himself got up before daybreak to spend time with God, Himself, and to commit His day, energy, mind, heart and will to that of God the Father’s.  If Jesus needed to do it, then we need to do it.

Consider this:  would you rather come to God at the end of the day for a recharge because you spent your day in your own energy and seeking your own goals, and you just want to check in and say hi?  Or would you rather set aside your day to the Lord and let Him guide you through it, energizing, directing, and making an eternal impact through your day?

Do not go through your day today without getting face-to-face with God.  Praise Him.  Rest in Him.  Ask Him to reveal what He is doing around you.  Speak to others about Him.  And you will find that this evening, when you are crawling in bed, you can joyfully reflect with Him about the day that you had together instead of just checking in.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases…

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”  The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.  It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.

– Lam 3.21-26

This passage has long been one of my favorites.  I learned it in song form as a child, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end.  They are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness Oh Lord…”

I have heard all sorts of arguments about whether it is necessary for one to have their quiet time, or time alone with the Lord, first thing in the morning.  Some argue that they just aren’t morning people, some don’t have time, whatever.  Some Christians wake up in the morning fully aware of their sinful nature and despairing of life and have nowhere else to turn but God, and they cling to him first thing.  Some wake up refreshed and invigorated but after the burdens of the day: trials, sin, life, etc, they need to run to the arms of the Savior in the evening.  I personally wake up grumpy.  I need God to transform my heart and mind.  Every. Single. Morning.  Those who know me well can tell within a few minutes of talking to me if I have spent time with the Lord yet.  Maybe some day I’ll grow up.  Maybe someday I’ll be that constant, steady, mature believer that I song long to be.

But regardless of when during the day you find that you must meditate on and turn to God, the fact remains the same.  His mercies are new every morning!  His steadfast love never ceases.  I hope that I can say with Jeremiah that the Lord is my portion, and that I wait on Him.  Let us wait on the Lord.  Let us seek after Him.  Because it is good that we wait silently for His salvation!

Now, I do not think that to wait silently means to be quiet about our faith.  No!  We are called to go, share, make disciples, speak boldly and firmly about the Truth of Jesus Christ.  But I think this means let us not question God.  Be silent before Him.  “Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God” (Ecc 5.2).  Because to wait on the Lord, to have hope in our future salvation is to trust Him and His perfect plan.  Have peace that He is in control.  Do not stand arrogantly before the throne questioning Him, but be confident in the creator of the universe to do exactly what He promised to do:  to “work all things together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8.28).  If you love God, you were called according to His purpose.  He has a plan.  Let’s trust Him.