But what has He done for me lately?
“Anyway, Lord, you are the light of my life.”
That reminds me—I need to change the burnt out bulb in the dining room.
“I trust you with my future.”
I wonder if I can trust Nick to feed the cat while I’m on vacation.
“So Father God I ask for your presence while I’m having that review today at work.”
Especially since my boss is such a crank. Oh well. She’s older than dirt. Guess I ought to give her a break.
“Fill me with your Spirit today.”
And with lots of coffee. Starbuck’s. Verona roast.
After this kind of devotional repeats with little improvement, you’ll start to conclude that prayer is not your cup of tea. It might have been something you tried on for size a while back, but since it didn’t go far, you let it go (although you can frantically root around and find it again if your department is downsizing at work). Sometimes prayer is like that. It can be a slightly uncomfortable pair of loafers we put on for certain occasions, but never long enough to break in. Rarely used, prayer fails to catch on and become the relational language between ourselves and God.
“I’m not a praying Christian,” you reason. “We’re all wired differently. Some like to paint. Some like to sing. Some like to dance. Some pray.” Well, you’re right. We are all wired differently. I’ll admit some people tend to pray as though they were attacking a batch of sweet rolls. I’m not that way. You may not be, either. Yet there’s no such thing as a non-praying Christian or even a Christian who prays very little—at least not in the Bible. Regardless of how you’re wired for activism or academics, administration or service, if you grow anemic in prayerfully contacting God, signs of that shortage will start showing up in your life. You won’t be able to study it away or work it away. Nor will it help for you to ignore it. Some things in the Christian life, such as prayer, are intended for all of us.
Granted, there are items not all of us will be signing up for, like nature walks, reading theological commentaries, all-night prayer vigils, journaling, listening to tons of Christian music, writing poetry (or blogs!). These are specific expressions of the way our personalities have been uniquely designed. But certain other things aren’t optional. If you try to live without them, then you’re going to develop “dietary” deficiencies, similar to the guy who only eats Big Macs for every meal.
God didn’t command these universal disciplines to be push-up contests. He doesn’t get off watching us try and try until we collapse in a sweaty heap. Nor are these things supposed to be a bizarre proof of our love for Him—swallowing live goldfish, or receiving swats with the fraternity paddle. No, they are relational exercises that help us uncover spiritual riches in our relationship with God. They’re for all of us, not just an unusual few.
- I need to interact with the Bible. The treasures of truth are there. God didn’t go to the trouble of having His word written down and then leading believers in church history to die for its translation and spread, so I could finally say, “No thanks, I’m not much of a reader.”
- I should pray. The treasures of relationship are there. The scriptures tell us, “Men ought to pray always” (Lk. 18:1), not “Men ought to pray always if they’re prayer warriors.”
- I should share the gospel. The treasures of purpose are there. Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8), without bothering to differentiate between introverts and extroverts.
- I’m supposed to be “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). The treasures of love are there. My preference for solitude and reflection doesn’t cancel out my responsibility to do good for my neighbors.
We’re not called to figure out if we will do these things. We determine the how. It’s not if you pray, but how. It’s not if you get into the Word of God, but how. It’s not if you witness to others about Christ, but how. It’s not if I do good, but how will I do it. We’re all different, so the how can change from person to person or even from church to church.
Wear those loafers around a bit longer…