"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV

Homeschooling our children can be one of the most challenging aspects of our adult life. The focus, energy, creativity and discipline it requires can seem overwhelming. Some days are easier than others, but then there are those days when all we can do is pray and all that comes out is one word, "Help!" May I make a suggestion? Don't wait until things get bad, rather, pray without ceasing!

But what about those days when your 8 year old doesn't understand the math problem you've just explained three times (and starts to cry), while your 12 and 10 year old boys are wrestling in the living room over a pencil instead of doing their writing assignment (causing more crying), and your 6 and 3 year old are standing at the sliding door looking in but not entering because they are covered in mud - this being autumn, it is still cold (and they shiver and whine), and your toddling baby just fell and hit her head – again (much crying from her). And, of course, you can barely hear your husband as he calls to ask what's for dinner and to remind you of the Bible Study which will be held at your house in a few hours (at which point you start to cry!) As I have actually lived these kinds of days out all too often, I have learned one of the essentials of survival: continual prayer! Let me share with you how, even in the midst of the most trying of circumstances, we can be at peace and can walk through it all in victory.

Continual Prayer

What does continual prayer mean? How can we practically do this? Here's my take on it: we are in a relationship with Jesus Christ. In any relationship, there must be conversation. Prayer is merely conversation. Conversation requires speaking and listening. These are things we can do any time, all the time, and at consistent times. Let me explain.

Any Time

There is never a wrong time to pray. When and where we speak to God does not have to be confined to a time and place but we are free to have a continual conversation with our Father through Jesus Christ. We can speak to God throughout the day and the night. The million dollar question is, do we? Do we pray anytime or do we wait for the crisis? I sometimes find myself speaking to myself trying to reason things out in my own understanding rather than speaking to God and asking for His wisdom. If you find yourself doing the same, just redirect the conversation heavenward. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.

All the Time 

We can speak to our Heavenly Father all the time. We must strive to keep the conversation going throughout the day. Don't let it drop on your end. Pick it back up and get it going again. We must continue the conversation. A conversation requires both speaking and listening. Then, as issues come up – and they will – you will be ready in an attitude of prayer and better able to respond in the Spirit instead of the flesh.

Consistent Time

Although we will be in prayer on a continual basis, we also need to set aside a consistent time of focused prayer.

Jesus went aside to pray "as was his custom." When we become consistent in our efforts to meet with God, and make it our 'custom' to know God more intimately, we will begin to recognize His voice. There was a time in my life when hearing God was as difficult as getting all those extra pounds of 'baby-weight' off. It just didn't happen. I would say, "I am having a hard time getting the weight off." But in fact, the weight would have come off if I would have just stuck to the diet! Likewise, I said, "I'm having a hard time hearing God." But in truth, I would have heard His voice if I would have just taken the time to consistently pray!

Place of Prayer

Of course we can pray anywhere. We are not confined to a place, although it is good to find a quiet place away from distractions for our habitual prayer time. There are times my prayer closet has been in my heart. When I'm in the midst of the crisis and I cannot get away, my heart cries out. Sometimes we may not physically be able to find a quiet place except in our inner being. We can meet God there for this is where He dwells and it is in Him that we live and move and have our being. In other words, our relationship with our Father should not stop because we have left our quiet place. In fact, I find that I need Him even more so as I go about my day, so I want to keep up the conversation.

We are the temple of the Holy Spirit of God. The story of Jesus and the moneychangers is relevant to us today. This temple we call our own is to be a house of prayer, not a den of thieves; a place of seeking God rather than seeking the things of this world. We should pray that Jesus would do with us as He did at the temple and drive away those things that shift our focus away from Him.

Prayer Changes Things

Most of us have heard that cliché. I would like to add that prayer changes us. For example, when those really hard days used to hit my home, I would usually hit the ceiling. I would react in anger to all the demands. And, like the extra weight, the anger would just not come off. But, as I began to spend even a little bit of time with Him, He would speak to me. This created a desire to be with Him more often. Consequently, I desired to please Him in my actions and reactions. Soon, I saw a change in my behavior. I believe this was for two reasons. One, I sought after God purposely. Second, I listened to Him as He instructed me in how to live.

I am still learning to put my emotions under His control instead of losing control of my emotions, and I must say that an attitude of prayer makes all the difference! Now, if I have this prayerful attitude on that particularly trying day, I can simply ask God for a creative way to teach that math concept, while He leads me to calmly teach those rowdy boys how to comfort their baby sister. He will show me how to laugh while washing mud off of the little ones, and how to speak gently to my husband when he calls. This is walking in victory! This is walking in prayer. And as we travel this homeschooling road, it must be a prayerful journey.

Next time we will look at how we can bring our children with us into this relationship with God through prayer in Homeschooling: A Prayerful Journey – Part 2.

Deborah Wuehler is the Devotional and E-Newsletter editor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. www.thehomeschoolmagazine.com. She lives in Roseville, CA with her husband Richard and their six gifts from heaven. E-mail Deborah at Devotions@TOSMag.com.