Friday, September 16, 2016

The Secret Place

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Ps. 91:1, NKJV).

"But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matt. 6:6, ESV).

Prayer should be one of the most natural activities for believers, right? It's a time of communicating with the one who has redeemed us and cleansed us of every sin. Praising God, petitioning on behalf of ourselves and those we love, and meditating on and declaring His promises. What believer wouldn't want to spend every minute of their day on their knees before the Lord?

Well, apparently I wouldn't. For many years, I've struggled with prayer. Found it boring, got distracted easily. Felt guilty for not wanting to pray more. And worst of all, I felt like I was talking to a wall. God felt so far away, no matter how much I tried to pray, ask Him to come and meet with me. Something wasn't working, and I honestly disliked and avoided prayer time.

Recently, I've been challenged to reevaluate my approach to prayer. I've always felt that prayer is something that I "should" do. It's the Christian thing to do. And I really do want a closer relationship with God. But somehow, I still didn't want to pray. I could never obtain the sense that I'd prayed "enough" or that I would ever be sufficiently good enough for God to want to meet with me and talk with me about things I cared about.

But lately, I've been feeling this yearning to get away from everything. To get away somewhere, completely alone, away from other people, to-do lists, and electronic devices. And when I do follow that urge, be it to a scenic park or even my own car, I find something. There in the solitude, the distractions fade away and I find a peaceful quietness that allows me to better focus upon my Creator.

Then, the other day, a friend of mine posed a question to me: what would my ideal time with God be like? Ideal time. Wow. What a beautiful way to look at prayer. Not as something I have to do or should do, but as something I actually can't wait to do. As a person that's prone to fantasy, I've long been someone who would daydream about things like the perfect day, the perfect job, the perfect husband. And the more I would do so, the more I would naturally want that thing I was dreaming about. But it had never occurred to me to take that approach to my relationship with God. To think of spending time with Him in the way that I might dream about what a perfect date would be with my future husband.

That approach has started making a huge difference to the way that I look at prayer time. It's taken the rules off - what I should talk with God about, how much time I should spend in prayer, how many chapters I should read in my Bible, etc. It's made it feel more natural - like talking with a friend. A friend that I need no incentive to hang out with - I just want to.

If you've struggled at all in your prayer life, I would urge you today to take a moment to reevaluate like I've been doing. What I'm talking about isn't a magic pill or an instant fix to your prayer life. I'm still struggling with old patterns of thinking about God that make prayer time difficult. But the more I choose to say no to those old ways of thinking and choose the new patterns, the better my relationship with God is getting. It's so freeing.

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