“I am addicted to prayer.”
I say this all the time. I recognize it’s a funny thing to say, especially with a family history of addiction, but I have always meant it. And really, what better thing could one be addicted to, right?
I was touring the USA recently, sharing about the amazing ministry my husband and I work with, and a woman came up after the presentation and asked me this,
“What does it look like to be addicted to prayer? I believe you mean it but I don’t know what that looks like. How did you get to be so comfortable with prayer?”
What a great question… how did I get to this place of prayer dependability? I didn’t have the whole story figured out then and I’m not even sure what answer I offered, but since then I have taken time to stop, PRAY, reflect, and remember. If I could see her again, this is what I would say:
Prayer offers 24-7, rain or shine, time-zone-independent access to a Friend I cannot live without.
Prayer remains my ever-present appointment with my favorite Counselor who helps sort out the collective madness after 43 years of hard-earned LIFE.
Prayer offers direction and advice from a Father who has always had my best interests in mind.
My earliest memories of prayer involve my mother. She was an on-fire woman of God and she made worshipping Him a natural part of our lives. We went to corporate worship as a family almost every week. If we missed, we would have a family “prayer service” in our living room. Now, truth be told, I was the brat pouting and hiding under the living room pillows, annoyed that I was being forced to partake in what I deemed a lame family affair, but her resolve was unchanging and I eventually grew out of adolescence.
In college and medical school, I started memorizing scripture as my personal journey with Jesus was escalating and I was hungry. I remember hearing someone quote scripture in a closing prayer and thinking, wow that was powerful! I was clueless on where to begin so I committed to memorizing this:
“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father who is in heaven, holy is your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today, our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’’ Matthew 6:9-13
After getting engaged, I remember a respected couple sharing this advice, “Be sure you guys get in the habit of praying together.” That seemed so strange to me – this was MY time with God and we had a good thing going… why should I invite anyone else into it?
It was about this time when we decided to revisit learning about the realm of spiritual disciplines and together we re-read Foster’s classic, The Celebration of Discipline. Breath prayer, Lectio Divina, even open palms and crossed legs – we tried it all. My fiancé and I wanted to set ourselves up for success so we continued to read all of the recommended books including Sacred Marriage, The Peacemaker, and even Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life.
We were on our honeymoon when I cracked open Eldridge’s newest release, Captivating. A bridesmaid had gifted me with this book after hearing Christy Nickols’ song, “Captivate Us” play at our wedding. The book was great and what has stuck with me ever since was this: Stacey Eldridge and her husband prayed Ephesians 6:10-18 together every day. The power and wisdom in that was undeniable and my husband and I had our prayer rhythm established in that moment.
We then moved to Uganda, Africa in 2012 when our kiddos were only 3 and 5. We prayed at bedtimes and meals, but we wanted more for them. In our pre-field training, we had a session on the practice of thankfulness. The instructor would point out how easy it was for our society to focus on the negative and how often that is a habit we pick up without even realizing it. To combat this, we started adding a new practice to our family dinner time routine. We would continue sharing our “Yay duck” and “Yuck duck” from the day (the best and worst part of the day), but then we added a “What I’m thankful for” to every dinner conversation; the practice of offering prayerful thanks to God was established.
As 2012 closed, it was clear that I would have to homeschool our children. I had no experience with homeschooling myself, as I was the product of parochial and public schools. I could salute a flag and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance with the best of them. I was quickly confronted with a dilemma: what should we recite in our makeshift classroom in a country foreign to us all? Ugandan National Anthem? America’s Pledge of Allegiance? Both seemed irrelevant in our academic setting and so I stuck with what I knew and they have closed every day of homeschooling with the Lord’s Prayer ever since.
One of the best things about prayer? THERE ARE NO RULES. I sometimes draw, I often recite worship song lyrics, I can be found repeating one word over and over, or just sitting and listening.
I have committed my life to a rhythm of prayer and that has led to an undeniable case of prayer addiction.
I can attest that there is no better vice, and if you’re needing a place to start, join me with this Matthew 6 paraphrase out of Sally Lloyd-Jones’s The Jesus Storybook Bible:
“So when you pray, pray in your normal voice, just like when you’re talking to someone you love very much. Like this…
‘Hello Daddy! We want to know you. And be close to you. Please show us how. Make everything in the world right again. And in our hearts, too. Do what is best—just like you do in heaven. And please do it down here, too. Please give us everything we need today. Forgive us for doing wrong, for hurting you. Forgive us just as we forgive other people when they hurt us. Rescue us! We need you. We don’t want to keep running away and hiding from you. Keep us safe from our enemies. You’re strong God. You can do whatever you want. You are in charge. Now and forever and for always! We think you’re great! Amen! Yes we do!’”