God has given us gifts called time and prayer that coincide within our lives. Prayer is intended to be an ongoing conversation, personally and/or corporately, with God- at all times and in all places. Yet often, prayer is treated like it functions on a light switch; being turned on, then off, then on again as we have needs. Then off again when things seem under control and we can manage things going forward.
Solomon talks about the matter of time in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 14:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
What about time to pray? In verse 7, Solomon mentions there’s time to be silent and a time to speak. So, does that mean we can shut off prayer? No it doesn’t. Prayer (communicating with God) is intended to be an ongoing two-way conversation within our personal relationship with Him. That means we share with God what’s on our hearts, AND we stop so we can listen to His reply. Listening to God will help us consider which season of time we’re in- and/or how He’d have us respond within that given season! Listening to God also can inspire worship- something He’s worthy of receiving at all times and in all places as well!
Paul, in encouraging all kinds of prayer, states the matter this way:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
Rejoice, pray, and give thanks- always, continually, and in all circumstances. All, means everything, or without exception. Continually, means without ceasing or stopping. Many Christians believe prayer is the most powerful and active gift God has given us. If that’s true, why are we as Christians so quick to stop praying once we begin?
“Our devotions are not measured by the clock, but time is of the essence. The ability to wait, and stay, and press belongs essentially to our intercourse with God.” ― E.M. Bounds, Power Through Pray
Often, like young children called to the dinner table while playing games with friends, we set our hearts on other things that can have an immediacy or importance in the moment, but are secondary to what matters most. Children don’t see the bigger picture that parents do. Children quickly sit down and eat with hopes they’ll return to their friends and continue the game, but often find their parents want to keep them at the table longer than they desire. There’s friction, squabbling, and sometimes some tension as the children wrestle to get their way. But for their greater good, the parents keep them at the table until the meal, and conversation, is finished.
Often, when God calls us into a time of focused prayer (maintaining our ongoing prayer mindset of speaking and listening with Him, but pressing further into Him still), it may seem to come at an inconvenient time to us. We may be focused on our schedule, a task, some form of entertainment, or something else entirely. The matter we’re involved in wrestles to take precedent over what/whom God is calling us to be in prayer for in the moment.
We immediately face some choices.
1. Will I immediately press into God in prayer about this, or will I make Him wait?
2. Will I neglect or pass on praying altogether in favor of what I’m doing currently?
3. If I press further into God about this, will I remain with and in Him until He declares it settled, or will I just give God a few seconds or minutes, then hurry back to what I am doing?
Prayer often changes us more than what/whom we pray for! How we answer these questions will determine how much we’ll permit God to change us as we pray. It will also affect how we see God answer that burden He invited us to be in prayer for. Make no mistake, He will accomplish His will fully- whether we obediently pray in that moment or not! How much we’re allowed to see and experience of that answer may directly relate to the decision we make and time we invest.
Is it any surprise that our adversary would do all he could to keep us from using the most powerful weapon God’s given us in spiritual warfare? A bumper sticker was recently seen that read, “If Satan can’t make you immoral, he’ll make you busy.”
Busyness is an adversary to prayer- and keeps many Christians from utilizing their most important and powerful weapon! Busyness also hinders many from growing in deeper relationship with God through prayer and the reading of Scripture. How busy are you? How much time with God are you losing each day because other priorities take precedent over communication and communion with Him?
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