IT SEEMS AS IF PRAYER SHOULD BE EASY. We speak to God and He speaks to us. We probably already speak to Him daily. Quick prayers ask for patience in a stressful situation, seek wisdom when a friend asks advice, and offer fervent thanks when an accident was avoided. Those bursts of prayer are one part of conversation with God. We already love Him or we wouldn’t turn to Him in the first place. However, prayer on-the-run can’t provide the solid foundation we need to respond faithfully to God’s love and deepen our own love for Him.
Jesus gave us the example of rising early and going alone to pray. The saints all spent long hours in prayer. Every spiritual book, beginning with the Bible, recommends frequent prayer. Yet we still ask, as the disciples did, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Step 1: Stop
Prayer is a slow, gentle process. It takes patience and daily perseverance. Above all, we must give up control and let God steer the conversation. We must have stillness to notice His gentle nudges and quiet comments. None of these requirements are exactly prized in our busy world.So the first step to prayer is to stop. Stop the busyness and add time for prayer. Put 15 minutes into your daily schedule and stick to it. By all means, increase the time or add another session elsewhere in the day if you can. It may not seem productive at first but God will be working with you in ways that may not be obvious until later. That can also be a problem because modern people tend to be very results-oriented. For instance, Max wondered if he was wasting his time sitting on his porch every morning thinking about Bible verses before breakfast. “I began to feel like the world’s worst pray-er,” he said. “Then one day, I handled a difficult situation at work completely differently than I would have before. I realized that a very gradual change had come over me in the two months I’d had a dedicated prayer time. Now I look forward to ‘wasting time’ each morning because I know God is doing the work.” God’s ways are not our ways, so we also must “stop” looking for immediate responses. Relax into experiencing the process. Gradually, the ability to step out of a busy world into one of prayer will become something that we prize, but that takes time.