The Habit of Prayer
In 1 Thessalonians 5;16-18 we are told, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all
circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I am going to touch on the importance of that very small thought “pray continually”. When played out in our lives, it can be very powerful, but if we do not put it into practice we are setting ourselves up to crash and burn.
Being posed with the thought of how our habit becomes the daily battleground of our character, I began to wonder how this affected me in my life. I thought of many habits I had, some good and some bad, and just how those things defined me. Some of my habits, such as: Addressing those in authority over me with respect, holding doors for people who may be walking behind me, or reading my bible every night before bed seemed to very clearly define some of the good in my character. However, in opposition to those I have habits that I would say make up the bad in my character, such as: Interrupting people, coming up with excuses as to why I didn't do something, or grumbling about my mom when I don’t like something she told me to do.
Now I must ask, what do we do with those in between habits? The ones that are not inherently “bad”, but yet wouldn't be considered “good”. The ones like checking Facebook on our phones in the mornings when we first wake up, not saying, “thank you” to your cashier at Wal-Mart, or neglecting to pray as much as you could/should . Although they may not be wrong, they may be hurting you more than you know.
The thing I wish to bring up is the need for constant prayer. I know I way too often catch myself telling people that I will pray for them, and then not giving their problems a second thought until I see them next, or they bring the topic up again; reading my bible, yet forgetting to pray; or forgetting to thank God for my food before every meal. Now, and seemingly insignificant as these things may seem, ultimately they are taking away an opportunity I have to talk to my Father. I miss out on fellowship, relationship, worship, and connection.
Now, let’s look at some numbers. There are approximately 650 prayers recorded in the bible, and approximately 450 recorded answers to prayers (about 2/3 of the recorded prayers). Prayer it’s self is mentioned 245 time in the KJV Old Testament, and 68 times in the KJV New Testament. It is mentioned in 5 different styles:
· Sitting – 2 Samuel 7:18
· Standing – Mark 11:25
· Kneeling – Acts 9:40
· With your face on the ground – Matthew 26:39
· With hands lifted up – 1 Timothy 2:8
So, if prayer is mentioned so many times, answered so many times, and done in so many different ways, surely it must be very important. It is answered, so we know that God hears and cares about what we have to say, or what we need. It is mentioned, so we know it is not something that should be over looked. And it is mentioned in every position we may be in every day, so it can be done at any time. But how do we make prayer a habit?
But how do we make prayer a habit? Well, like any habit, it won’t just happen overnight. It takes a gradual change in what we do. It also can mean setting some sort of routine. In Daniel 6:10 it talks about how Daniel got on his knees 3 times a day to thank God. So, perhaps that means setting aside time every day for prayer. And if your schedule is “too full” to schedule time for prayer, perhaps you need to reevaluate what is important to you. However, I do understand that life can become distracting, and we can forget to set aside those times. So, maybe you should leave notes for yourself around your house to pray. But whatever it takes, remember to pray; to talk to your Father. Communication is important for any relationship, especially one with God, so don’t neglect it. And if we make prayer a habit our Character becomes one of unity with God.
I will close with this one thought. C.S. Lewis once said, “I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping.” If our need flows out waking and sleeping, we should be taking that need to God, waking and sleeping.