There are times when shout out prayers are all one can manage. Like when I was raising an infant ... on three hours of sleep. Or when, upon learning my now adult daughter started talking about doing oversea missions in India's slums. Or communist countries.
Or the day I was stuck in Atlanta with no money, credit cards, or ID (which was necessary to fly back home).
Shout out prayers, those, "Oh, Lord help me," cries uttered countless times throughout the day, are great. Necessary.
And at times, a woman's only avenue to sanity. But if our prayer life continually resembles an elevator pitch, before long, our spiritual life will suffer.
Divine intimacy, the kind that fills up all the empty and broken places within and melds our heart to our Father’s, requires regular, unhurried communication.
This is what I long for. What I hope for, and at times, what I intentionally move toward. But then life gets busy, I get distracted, and I slip into shout out prayers once again.
If I want to grow as a believer, wife, mother, and friend; if I want to experience the deep joy and peace Christ promised, I'll make prayer a top priority—a habit.
In the gospel of Luke, the historian writing the text, tells a man named Theophilus, about the events leading up to the birth of John the Baptist. He began by describing John's parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah, stating they were known for their faithful obedience. (Luke 1:6)
In other words, that was their main defining factor.
As a priest, Zechariah was chosen by lot to "enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense" (Luke 1:9). This would have been a sacred, intimate time between him and God.
But he wasn’t the only one God met with that day. According to Scripture, while he was inside the temple meeting with God, a great crowd stood outside, praying.
Prayer had become a way of life for these people, a habit that had been established over a thousand years previously. Ever since the time of Aaron, the first Jewish priest, the priests burned incense twice each day, and whenever the people smelled its holy aroma and saw it rising heavenward, they prayed.
For over fourteen hundred years.
That kind of dedication and consistency often eludes me, because I get “too” busy, distracted, and sometimes, discouraged, especially if it feels like God isn’t answering.
But by the time Elizabeth and Zechariah came on the scene, God had been silent for 400 years. And I often find a few years of unanswered prayers difficult--when I'm approaching prayer wrong, focusing on what I might get, rather than Who I can get to know.
Yes, God is faithful, generous, and attentive. And yes, He answers prayer and gives good gifts to His children, but the best gift He’s ever provided is that of Immanuel, Christ with us. Let's not get so caught up in what we don't have or maybe don't know that we miss out on the beautiful gift of divine presence God has made available to us today.
What are some ways you refocus yourself on Christ? How have you made prayer time a priority? Share your thoughts and examples with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other!
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