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 His believers, 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!
Before you go, make sure to grab a copy of Wholly Loved's 90-day devotional, Drawing near:
Each day, God beckons us to Himself, calling us to rest in His love and grace. As we do, He heals our hurts, overpowers our fears with love, and restores us to the women He created us to be. This 90-day devotional, written by women who are learning themselves to live anchored in God's grace, will help you deepen your faith and grow your relationship with Christ.
Join Wholly Loved's online book discussion club to learn how to rest, daily, in God's grace!
My team members and I want to help you live in the freedom of God’s grace! Join us for a five week online book discussion club to discuss the Ragamuffin Gospel, a book that was truly transformative in Jennifer’s life. You can find the book HERE.
From the back cover:
A Furious Love Is Hot on Your Trail!
Many believers feel stunted in their Christian growth. We beat ourselves up over our failures and, in the process, pull away from God because we subconsciously believe He tallies our defects and hangs His head in disappointment. In this newly repackaged edition—now with full appendix, study questions, and the author’s own epilogue, “Ragamuffin Fifteen Years Later,” Brennan Manning reminds us that nothing could be further from the truth. The Father beckons us to Himself with a “furious love” that burns brightly and constantly. Only when we truly embrace God’s grace can we bask in the joy of a gospel that enfolds the most needy of His flock—the “ragamuffins.”
I also invite you to sign up for my free quarterly e-mailing to receive short stories, recipes, devotions, and more sent directly to your inbox. Plus, as a thank you, you'll receive a link for a free download (sent separately via email) for a Bible study a friend and I wrote on 1 Timothy. You can sing up HERE. And make sure to visit my devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com for more Christ-centered encouragement.