I could just kick myself for not remembering the name of the brilliant soul who penned the words that changed the way I engaged with prayer, but let me just say, “It was a prayer game changer.”
Again, I don’t remember the specific words, but I know it was a super-great Christian author who said something along the brilliant lines of…
“Prayer closets may work for introverts, but it doesn’t work for my extroverted self.”
Seriously, I remember breathing in a ginormous sigh of relief as I read those words and pedaled that gym bike.
I needed those words and truth be told, I craved those words.
For some reason, I guess I needed another soul with a similar struggle to give me a “green light” on expanding my view of prayer. I needed that perspective, and I needed release from the stifling ways I had heard others talk about the discipline of practicing prayer. Truly, I don’t know why I needed this approval (because I tend to not be the rule-following, box-checking soul), but I needed it.
See, I’m not the kind of soul that does well with super quiet. And I’m not the kind that focuses well when my eyes are shut (I do that when I sleep). And I really, really am not the kind of sister that focuses well on my knees and with my head bowed. I’m just not. And though I kinda wish I was because those people always look super controlled and entirely serene, it ain’t me.
It hurts my knees; my neck gets stiff; my contacts get dry; I get sleepy; and my mind starts thinking about a million and one things that have absolutely nothing to do with my conversation with God. Genuinely, I would never be monk-material or nun-worthy, not to mention the fact that I’m still unsure of what a “prayer closet” actually looks like.
And when I finally wrapped my head around the possibility of praying while my eyes were open and my hands were moving, that’s when my life started to look like one, long-winded conversation with the Lord – a conversation that sometimes stretched from the time my eyeliner-stained eyes opened until the time I set my alarm for the next sleep.
It was all kinds of freedom for this extroverted soul.
I love what Tim Challies writes in his book, Visual Theology, on prayer:
“Prayer is one of the means [God] uses to prepare you to receive whatever He gives and whatever He does. If God extends great grace and mercy to you, prayer will prepare you to receive it without pride and without presumption. If God extends trial or difficulty to you, prayer will prepare you to receive it without anger and without despair. If God extends great means or great riches, prayer will prepare you to steward it faithfully. Prayer is like the trailblazer that goes out before you–it acknowledges your weaknesses and declares God’s strength, and it prepares you, no matter the circumstance, to say, ‘God is good.'”
Good word, Tim. Good word.
And so, if prayer is the avenue in which we not only connect with God, but also the tool which helps prepare our hearts, then I need to be doing it CONTINUOUSLY and not just when I have time to get alone, kneel, and stow myself away in the confines of my “prayer closet.”
As 1 Thessalonians 5:17 reads, I need to be praying UNCEASINGLY.
So as I chop my carrots and prepare my Moroccan Stew, I ask the Lord to forgive my pride and deal with my sin of comparison.
As I change a diaper and button onesies, I beg the Lord to place this little girl in a home where her heart will be loved and where her soul will find Jesus.
As I fold the loads and loads of endless laundry, I pray over my kids and ask the Lord to shower them with undeserved grace and unrelenting mercy.
As I wait at the red light, I confess my fears and inadequacies, asking the Lord to show up in that counseling office of mine.
As I set the table and pour water in the sippies, I ask the Lord to show favor on my husband and direct our paths.
As I dry my hair and swipe that mascara, I pray over my friend’s difficult marriage, my other friend’s divorce, and my other friend’s desire to be wedded and in love.
As I drive from the bank to the Chic-fil-A parking lot, I cry out for the Lord to relentlessly chase down His lost sheep.
As I walk those steps and mark off those miles, I thank the Lord for His lovingkindness and His constant provision.
As I kneel at my child’s bed while he’s fast asleep, I beg for wisdom and for a soft heart to preach the Gospel with perseverance and a peaceful tone.
And as I make that bed and arrange those pillows, I ask the Lord to bend my will, remove my pride, and make me holy “as He is holy.”
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 15:4
We can approach Him anywhere.
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek His face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11
We can seek Him at any time.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Ephesians 6:18
And we can ask Him anything and in any place.
So whether you pray with your eyes open, eyes shut, knees bent, head bowed, standing, driving, showering, or folding that basket of laundry, may we remember we have a God who cares, who is eager to listen, and is more concerned about the motives of our hearts than the position of our hands.
“May our prayers be set before Him like incense; may the lifting up of our hands be like the evening sacrifice.”