Several friends have confessed lately to feeling “spiritually numb.” Being numb is the opposite of being alert. And when we’re not alert, it’s hard to hear God, right? Here are some powerful thoughts from my friend Ashley in response to the question: “What keeps you from being ALERT for prayer?”
Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV).
For the past several years, the Lord has beckoned me deeper and deeper into a more intimate relationship with Him. Before I had kids, I would wake up at 6am just to meet with Him and His Word, and I loved to pray during my 45 minute commute to work. After having kids I would long for naptime, a good cup of tea, and an hour in Word and prayer.
Earlier this year I felt such a distance from the Lord, and sensed a lack of depth in my relationship with Him. I did not understand why. I go to church, I serve, I read the Word, but my prayer life was in the pits. I made excuses. I have three small children, I’m exhausted, my baby girl still wakes up at night, I can’t even clean my house, so how can I find time to pray? And that is just it–God doesn’t want me to fit him into my day. He doesn’t want me to clock in and clock out or check him off my list. He says pray without ceasing. That means don’t stop.
So I tried a little experiment, what I called “anti-social.” One month. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Pinterest. What I learned was, since getting my smart phone last year, I replaced all my quiet, reflective moments of the day with media. Nursing my baby, waiting in the car, awake for no reason at 3am–these moments were filled with my phone on. I even started checking Facebook constantly and uploading pictures on Instagram obsessively instead of actually enjoying the gift of that time with my family. Take away the idol of media–including TV–and suddenly I have time to pray and just enjoy rare quiet moments with the Lord.
At first, it was really uncomfortable and boring, and I felt like I missed out on people’s lives. But I soon discovered what slavery I have been under, and was reminded once again that authentic living is living daily in Him. And I am a better friend, wife, daughter, and mom because instead of viewing lives from a screenshot, the Lord prompts me to pray, invest, text encouragement, meet with, and go deeper.
I have since been “socialized” again, but with lots of limits. I started keeping books on my phone, as well as Scripture, so if I have a long nursing session at night I am filling my mind with something that draws me to Christ and encourages me to pray. There are apps I have to avoid all together, because I am too tempted to waste precious time. And I’ve begun thanking God for sweet, pic worthy moments before I ever snap the picture, because he is the author of all things good.
I’ve stopped trying to post all the crazy, funny, sweet things my kids say or do. Instead, I talk with the Lord about it, and when I do post it’s usually long after the moment has passed. I’ve had to retrain myself to be the person I was pre-smartphone, but it has been worth it for me. It sounds silly to say that posting on Facebook had become a prayer-stealer for me. But I think the enemy of our faith tries to use anything to keep us from an active relationship with our Lord.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (NIV). What is it that hinders your prayer life? What is it that keeps you from fixing your eyes on our Lord? Let the Lord break down these webs and retrain us on how to daily pray without ceasing.