Do you have a buddy that you constantly send memes and quotes to? I do; My brother Peter. Silly memes, thought provoking quotes, and spiritually charging content gets "buzzed" back and forth between our Instagram DM and text threads on a daily rhythm. This week one really stood out :
"Much of the beauty of day and night prayer is the simple consistency of showing up in response to His worth."
Let's break this down. Prayer is an immensely special part of my Jesus Journey. When I discovered that God wanted to talk to me... it was a game changing/plot twist moment in my faith journey. My junior year in high school, my brother Peter, invited me to come pray with his college buddies who gathered every night at 9:00pm to pray. I was definitely intimated. These people were older than me, wiser than me, and could pray much better than me. But the Lord was wooing my heart closer to Him, and I could sense it through my brother's invitation. (So older siblings... keep praying and inviting!)
So on a Sunday in February I joined him. And I didn't say one word. I just stood there staring at my feet listening to other people hoping that I wouldn't be "called on" and at the same time scripting a prayer in my head in case I was. But after that night, I never had to face "the first night" ever again. And one night turned into two, and then two turned into a month, and next thing you knew I was CRAVING 9:00pm every night. Jesus was teaching me how to listen and obey. People were cheering me on on my Jesus journey. It was the most adventurous fun I'd ever had. I got a taste of the place of prayer and presence of God found in it and there was no turning back.
Fast forward now over a decade and guess what, I am still praying! I am still finding new beauty of Jesus! I am still discovering more about the Kingdom of God. I am still marveling at the holiness of scripture. Each season has looked different (praying in dorm rooms, with a few, with a group, in my home, with just my husband, etc) but the heartbeat has always been what this quote above says...."Jesus, your presence deserves my presence". Even if I'm nervous, tired, or busy, your presence alone is a reason to show up. I could write a whole book on prayer; the delight of finding Him in the sacred seconds of exchanged conversation. It is the holy pause that connects our daily moments and forms them into a large beautiful story. Without a period in a sentence things get confusing and exhausting. That's what life is like without the pause of prayer. In the sacred pauses that you carve out to take time to pray, He shows up. It takes practice. It takes silence. It takes trust. But it is oh so worth it.
Prayer is much more than a special saying you recite before a meal or a nursery rhyme before bed. It is a divine dialogue, where you learn how to listen and obey. And in the consistency of prayer, you learn His voice and learn to trust it quickly and completely.
In October 2020, my dear Uncle Bill went to be with Jesus. It was terribly tragic and sad for our family. He was a pioneer and pillar of faith in his community; a Pastor. Eleanor was just 6 weeks old when he passed away. We got news from family about the funeral arrangements, with lots of grace and "we don't expect you to come" since it was states away and I had a 6 weeks old baby and 22 month old at home. The second I heard of the funeral, I prayed and asked God what my response needed to be. I thought perhaps I could sacrifice a large sum of money for some special flowers. That wasn't what I heard. Instead, something in me leapt, a "knowing". I didn't hear a voice, but I had a holy gush of gusto; "I have to go" was my internal response.
Let me tell you, "go" was not easy. "Go" meant money, travel, time, and mostly leaving my 6 week old daughter. But friends, the joy of learning His voice in prayer grows your confidence in Him. I trust Him as my Good Shepherd. I know every step He leads me is worth everything. So "go" I went.
Ryan was so very supportive. I wasn't comfortable being away from Eleanor for a night, so we arranged a round trip day to get me two hours with family for the graveside ceremony. I left at 4am.
18 hours of travel.
2 hours with family for the ceremony.
And home just in time to nurse Eleanor at midnight... and every 3 hours to follow.
Why am I telling you this? (I'm not trying to make this about me. I promise there's a point here.)
I'm telling you this because when my family and friends insisted with,
"This isn't necessary." and "Why are you doing this?" my response was:
"He lived a life worth honoring. Going is the right thing to do. "
And that simply was the truth.
How much more should I rearrange my life, to "Show up" for Jesus. How much more should I honor Him by being present in His presences? We can do that by praying. By honoring him with our minutes and mouth.
Friends. Jesus lived (and lives) a life worth honoring. His presence deserves our presence.
Similar to my story above, when it comes to "finding time to pray", it's NEVER going to be convenient. There will always be a reason why you can't "show up", but my urgent plea to you is for you to do your best to push yourself to rearrange things, sacrifice things, and simply come with a heart of honor.
Here's some possible ideas of how you can "show up" in the place of prayer consistently:
Weekly prayer in your living room with family or friends. Set a 10, 15, or 30 min timer and pray.
Taking a slot in a local prayer house in your city.
Waking up early and joining morning prayer at your church on Sunday.
Start a monthly zoom prayer meeting with people you miss.
Go for a prayer walk alone. *Wear a mask as you practice praying. Nobody will look at you weird for talking out loud. Ha!
Pray scripture over yourself/your family/ your city. Psalms 91 and Psalms 23 is a great place to start.
May this blog be the confirmation you need to go for it and show up again.
You haven't disqualified yourself from His presence. He misses you. He lights up when He sees your attention looking at Him.
May the Lamb Receive the Reward of His Sacrifice, Abby