The when of prayer
Some stores sell half a dozen eggs. I didn’t realize how convenient that was until I became single again.
Sometimes six is just enough.
In high school I studied journalism for two years and learned another helpful six – the 5 W’s and H.
These are the journalist’s go-to questions, the ones she uses to investigate a subject. Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
Often I carry this same packet of questions when I open my Bible, start reading, and get stopped by a verse that begs more thought.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people.
Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.”
- 2 TIMOTHY 2:1 NLT
In my half dozen carton of eggs – or questions, today I’m pulling out the WHEN and cracking it open.
If I don’t plan a time for prayer, it can easily get neglected. Some suggest that the earlier in the day we begin our conversation with the Lord, the holier we likely are. That’s hard to swallow if you happen to be a night person.
Long ago I had friends who were missionaries in Hong Kong. When they left the States, I promised to pray for them daily. And I meant it. But I failed.
I prayed when I thought of them, and felt guilty for all the days I didn’t happen to think of them.
Then one day I made a discovery. While I was vacuuming, I couldn’t hear my three little children – or anything else. In fact, I moved into my own surprising and quiet bubble. My nearly-daily vacuum time became my special time to pray for my missionary friends.
I remember reading about Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles. She and Samuel had 19 children, (though 9 died at birth). John preached to a million people during his lifetime, and Charles wrote over 9,000 hymns. Often without the help of her frequently-absent husband, Susanna ran the farm, homeschooled the children and led Sunday morning church at her home where as many as 200 attended.
One of the stories that stuck with me was Susanna’s promise to God that she’d spend two hours in prayer for every hour of entertainment. She had little time for either. But she found a way to pray in the midst of her incredibly busy life. She put an apron over her head as an unspoken notice to her children that she was in prayer and not to be disturbed.
On very few occasions have I prayed non-stop for two hours. But I can humbly say I’ve quite often spent that much time talking to the Lord in the course of a day.
I learned from the guilt of my prayer-less support for missionary friends, that prayer doesn’t have to be done on my knees, alone in a dark room or even under my apron.
But instead when I promised to join a loved one in prayer during a season of pain or difficulty, I immediately asked the Lord that “W” question that makes all the difference in my faithfulness.
The Lord often gives me a visual for this meet-up with Him: while I brush my teeth, each time I get a drink of water, when I climb into the car, when I hop into the shower…
It’s a great privilege to ask the Lord to help, to intercede, and to give thanks for another. And, after I discover the WHEN, it’s also a way to maintain faithfulness.
Pull Up a Chair and Sit Still
Who has the Lord placed on your heart for prayer? How about attaching that conversation to a daily activity as a reminder – bringing your loved one to the One who loves much?
Real prayer comes not from gritting our teeth but from falling in love.”
- RICHARD FOSTER