I was taught a very simple bedtime prayer by my parents who prayed with me from the earliest recollection of my childhood.
I don’t remember the transition from being prayed with, to me being left to pray by myself, but I do remember the feeling that I must never go to sleep without going through the little prayer ritual that I was taught.
Even at a young age, I can recall thinking that I wish that I could now pray with a little more meaning, rather than just go through the motions, but I didn’t know how to escape the same old phrases that had been ingrained into my young mind.
Although not a Christian at the time, in the truest sense of knowing Jesus in a personal way, I was around 15 or 16 when I felt the urge to move forward into praying each day for other things that bothered me.
I kept a secret prayer folder that I would even take on holiday, and at certain times in the day I would find a quiet spot to go through my prayers.
It was quite a burdensome thing really when I think about it; I was praying to God…but I didn’t know Him.
Now, more than 40 years later from those early teenage prayers, I am still learning about prayer, and today I share with you my following experience…
At around 17, I had become a follower of Christ and many years later, having seen many answers through my daily prayers, I started to feel that the little ritual of praying as a child had now become a bigger ritual as an adult.
Feelings of guilt would come over me if I would even so much miss a day without praying in a morning. Every prayer list that I kept over the years had to be prayed through systematically. I had countries of the world to cover, children’s names in Africa and beyond, problem people and people’s problems, not to mention personal things only known to myself. I would cover a whole array of things and to be honest, I was trapped into believing that if I didn’t pray daily for them, the whole world might come to a standstill, well not quite, but at least the people that I prayed for might.
It has only been in recent years that I realised that prayer is often a burden for people and circumstances, but prayer isn’t a burden in itself. It’s a wonderful daily two way conversation with God.
Every morning, I’m still keeping my appointment in prayer, but instead of feeling that the weight of responsibility was all mine, it is now fairly and squarely on the one that gave His life for me – Jesus.
Prayer is not just a ritualistic working through a set of requests, but is so much more; it’s an hourly, moment-by-moment relationship with God.
Smith Wigglesworth, a plumber from Bradford that was used mightily by God in early 1900’s, said that he rarely prayed for more than ten minutes at a time, but there was rarely ten minutes that passed where he hadn’t prayed.
Today, I still love to focus my prayers by having very definite names and circumstances to pray over every week and I’d encourage you to do the same. However, be mindful that you don’t get caught in the trap of going through the ritual of prayer without the relationship of prayer.
John 15:7, 13-15 ‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.’
Philippians 4:6-7 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’
A daily devotion for a better way of living.