How’s Your Prayer Life?
Bishop Donald Hilliard
"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Prayer is not a monologue where one person does all the talking, or a ritual where we must say things in the right order, or a chore to get out of the way like brushing our teeth before going to bed.
Jesus rejects this performance-based understanding of prayer: "Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace" (Mt 6:6 TM).
For many, prayer has little to do with the realities of life. They think of it like the National Anthem at a game: a nice opening, but nothing to do with what happens on the field afterwards. Other people treat prayer like a rabbit's foot you pull out and rub when things are tough: "A prayer a day keeps the devil away." Paul writes, "Pray without ceasing." That doesn't sound like something you do once in a while, or a flare you shoot up during a crisis.
Try substituting the word breathe for the word pray: "breathe without ceasing" - doesn't that sound like a good idea to you? We don't breathe only when we feel like it. Or decide, "I'm not into oxygen today," and stop breathing. Or get frustrated and say, "This isn't getting me anywhere. I'm not going to do it any more." No, we cling to the breath in our bodies like it's life. So, just as breathing is an indispensable part of your natural life, prayer is an indispensable part of spiritual life. Without it you die spiritually. So, how's your prayer life?