“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Of course, we can’t literally pray all the time– we need to eat, sleep, work, travel, and talk with other people as we go through our days. But we always have the ability and the access to cry out to God. There is never a time when God is too busy, or we are unable to formulate a prayer in our hearts and minds. Even if we can’t find the words!
This was borne to me again in the last few months of my Mom’s life. As her health deteriorated; as she started to have trouble remembering names and seeing faces, she still remained committed to prayer. She was always eager for information– who was traveling; who was celebrating a birthday; who was in the hospital; who was in the middle of a divorce; who was moving to a new community, or had just moved here from elsewhere? Even if she couldn’t send a greeting card, or attend a wedding or other event, she could pray.
I know several moms and dads whose lives are hectic. They don’t have the luxury of hours to devote to prayer and Bible study. They may have minutes! Their lives are filled with the morning commute, with cleaning up small disasters everywhere, with trying to balance family life and work life. But they can pray– they can pray as they ride the train, or at their desk; they can pray as they sweep up the latest mess, or as they take a precious (and too-short) bathroom break! They can pray with their children, for their children, or surrounded by co-workers. They can pray silent, desperate prayers or short bursts of praise.
I know several others who are in my mom’s situation. They are aging, or ill; they are bedridden and in pain. They can’t get up; they can’t DO the things they would wish to do. They can’t give hugs or write letters or make phone calls to encourage others. Many of them cannot feed themselves or talk. But they can pray! They have the same access to God’s comfort, wisdom, and Love as everyone else. They can pray with groans and thoughts– even scattered and burdened ones.
I know some people who “don’t know how” to pray. They are new to Faith, or they have strayed so far, they just can’t seem to concentrate on what they want to say to God. They are plagued by guilt, shame, or unresolved bitterness. They feel unworthy, or unclean. Yet, they can still pray. They can cry out in lingering doubt and despair– “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) They can ask the difficult questions for which only God has the answers– questions about forgiveness, injustice, pain, and grief.
I am fortunate. I have a lot of “down time” at our shop. It’s not a very busy (or very prosperous!) shop. But it offers me the opportunity to pray, and to write about prayer. I have the time to think about prayer– what it means, how it works, why it is so vital. And even after a lifetime of praying, I still get surprised by new opportunities for prayer. The other day, a customer walked in, very upset. She was a stranger to me, but I was prompted to ask if I could just take a minute to pray for her. Suddenly, her heart spilled out. The details are her story, and not for this blog post, but God gave me the opportunity to offer encouragement and hope and (hopefully) wise advice as she has many life-changing decisions to make.
I can continue to pray for her situation today. And I can lift up prayers for family, friends, neighbors, and so many others throughout the day. I can pray for Estonia– a nation I’ve never visited and know very little about, but one that God knows and loves dearly! I can pray for K____, one of our “regulars” who stops by the shop to talk and look around, and occasionally to buy something small that he can afford. I can sing praises for all the many attributes or our Amazing God! I can thank God for His many blessings, including a praying mother! I can seek wisdom for the days ahead, and forgiveness for the sins of the past.
I can pray from my seat behind the counter. I can pray in a booth at the local fast food place, and with my husband at our dinner table. I can pray while I wait in line at the grocery. I can pray as I sort through my Mom’s papers and clothes, or as I clean around the shop or at home. I can pray in bed. And yes, I can even pray in the bathroom! I can pray whether I am happy or sad; whether I am under stress or breezing through the day. I can pray in English or “Spanglish” or with groans or snatches of song. I can pray with my eyes open, with my fingers flying across the keys of my computer, or as I walk to the post office.
Children can pray; prison inmates can pray; patients in hospitals can pray; soldiers and construction workers and chefs can all pray. Sewer workers and surgeons, clowns and corporate CEOs, gardeners and guards, taxi drivers (eyes opened!) and teachers– all can pray. Moms and Grandfathers, sisters and uncles can all pray. Those who are blind, lame, mute, or mentally challenged can all pray. Wise men and fools can pray. Strong or weak, rich or poor, king or captive– all can pray.
The question today is, WILL WE?
Leave a Reply