Pick a time.
Set a timer.
Meet with God.
It seemed simple enough. All I had to was commit to it, right? Set my date with God and don’t cancel. 5AM; call it a morning coffee date. The kids would all be in bed, the house would be quiet. I could bundle up by the wood stove, Bible in hand, prayer journal on the side table ready to listen, ready to breathe Him in.
*deep inhale* Ah, my secret place.
It sounded good in theory. It’s what most every Instagram photo leads us to believe our pray time should be like and I’ve found a many blog posts that communicate the same.
Quiet. Still. Sacred.
I stand behind sacred 100%. Our time in the presence of God is treasured. But what happens when the season of life that we’re in doesn’t allow for the still, quiet, prayer time that we crave? Can we still cultivate a intimate prayer life?
Less about the atmosphere, more about prayer
I think sometimes we make the atmosphere surrounding our prayer more of a priority than prayer itself. I understand wanting to have those precious moments in your secret place. It’s refreshing. But what concerns me about to pursuit of still and quiet in relationship to prayer is that many of us have begun to forgo prayer because we can’t escape to that still and quiet place.
It was only a few short months ago I found my self walking that line. My youngest son had just been born and although motherhood isn’t new to me, I realized I had forgotten how adding the sweet new addition of a baby to the family can sometimes disrupt our normal routines. I no longer had extended amounts of time that I could commit to just being still and sitting with the Lord. I no longer got early mornings to myself, or even late evenings.
I remember calling my mom feeling frustrated and defeated because I knew God had been calling me to pray more, but I couldn’t figure out where I was going to fit that time into my day. It seemed like every moment was accounted for already. Where would I find more time? And with three young boys and a baby in the house how on earth could I ensure that time was still and peaceful enough for prayer? After talking it through I realized, I was letting my prayer life and relationship with Jesus hinge on finding the perfect prayer atmosphere. I prioritized the setting above the encounter. I knew if I stuck to this pattern my relationship with God was going to suffer. I had to find ways to pursue God anyway, even if our meeting place was less than still and quiet.
What to do when you can’t escape to your secret place
If you can relate I want to encourage you to be brave in this moment and press through. Don’t let the distractions keep you from pursing God and don’t let the lack of the perfect environment keep you from Him either. I think back Paul in the New Testament scripture and how many times the atmosphere and environment around him didn’t exactly scream peaceful and decadent. He prayed on ship decks and prison cells. And yet His encounters with God weren’t any less magnificent and God used him to build and strengthen the New Testament church.
That tells me prayer is less about the atmosphere and more about the commitment to diligently pursue a relationship with Christ. So let’s set aside the atmosphere requirements for a moment and talk about practical ways we can pursue God in our honest, unaltered, everyday lifes.
3 Ways to pursue God in the midst of our everyday lives
1 | When you feel the call to pray, pray.
You don’t have to be in any special position or place. When God puts a thought on your mind to pray about someone or something; do it right then. Right there on the spot, out loud or in your head; whatever it is he is leading you to pray about, start praying. It’s more important that we are obedient to that call to prayer now than it is that we are in the perfect twenty-first century setting for prayer.
When God prompts you to pray, be obedient to His call. Pray.
2 | Pray as you go
A great biblical example of this is Esther. During her 3 days of fasting alongside the Jewish people Esther didn’t sit secluded or isolated. She still went about her daily tasks. And in addition to those she spent extra time preparing dinners for the king and one of his top advisors. Esther still whole-heartedly sought God, but she didn’t wait for the world to stand still in order for her to do it. In fact, in biblical times it was common for people who were fasting to add prayer to their time of meal preparation. You and I may not be fasting at this moment, but we still have the freedom to pray and communicate with God throughout our day; and even while working on certain tasks.
Pray as you go. While washing the dishes, mopping floors, meal prepping in the kitchen. I can’t tell you how much time I spend in my kitchen. I call it the place where all the magic happens because we do everything in there. We do games in the kitchen, school in the kitchen, cooking in the kitchen, and of course we are always cleaning the kitchen. I think of all the time I spend doing tasks there, why not still my mind and wait on God while I do them?
3 | Bring your kids into your prayer time
What better way to raise kids who know God and know how to seek Him than for them to learn by participating in prayer with you. Invite them in. Take that opportunity to show your children how to pray in agreement. I’ll often sit everyone around the table, share with them exactly what it is that I’m praying for, and ask them if they’ll pray in agreement with me. We’ll delve into prayer as a family. Sometimes I’ll delegate prayer assignments and we will each take turns praying.
See, we can’t abandon prayer because we don’t have the setting we’d like. And we also shouldn’t compartmentalize prayer. It doesn’t belong in just one part of our day. I was reading parts of Psalms and Deuteronomy along with our Bible Study group on Facebook and in those scriptures they’re talking about seeking God during the day, at nights, in their beds; talking about God to each other and their children, in their homes and in the community. Based on those scriptures and other examples in the Bible, it’s pretty clear there isn’t one singular setting required for prayer. Your war room, that’s a great tool to have, but don’t exclude prayer to only those moments. Because if you do, you’re missing out on powerful times of connection with God. Powerful prayers certainly include war room prayers, but they aren’t exclusive to them.
An obedient heart
What God wants from us more than anything, especially in relation to prayer, is an obedient heart. Who is going to pray when God prompts them to? Who is going to agree with Him in prayer? Who is going to humble themselves and use prayer as a way to not only communicate with God but to serve their communities and bring God’s will into them? Those are things we can do in any setting.
I don’t say all this to discourage you from seeking quiet time with God. That time is important when we can snag it. And that’s easier in some seasons than it is in others. The point I hope to impress on you as you read this is not to let life and all of its enthusiasm and responsibilities hinder us from praying or allowing us to be vessels for God. Don’t wait on that quiet moment because it may or may not come. Pursue God anyway. Pray; pray when God prompts you, connect with God through out the day, and invite the people in your space to pray with you. And trust me, those prayers will be heard, and they will be fruitful.