I pray quite a bit.
It’s not because I’m especially holy (as you’ll see in a few sentences). It’s not because I have some extraordinary hotline to God which sees all my prayers answered my way. And it’s not because I’m just looking to fill my life with religious activity.
I pray because I’ve made a commitment to pray, because I think this is part of what God is asking me to do in this season of life.
Some days it’s challenging, other days it’s easy. Some days it’s tiring, and on others it’s energizing. Some days it’s encouraging, and others it’s uncertain.
Throughout the varieties of my religious experience, I frequently encounter one thought. (Here’s where you’ll get to see that I’m not especially holy.)
“What could I get done if only I didn’t pray?”
Two or three hours a day, time and energy…what else could I accomplish if I wasn’t spending time sharing thoughts with God, asking for blessing in the lives of others, trying to discern what He thinks, hear what He’s saying?
Undoubtedly, there are other things I could do. Letters I could write, lessons I could prepare, books I could read, phone calls I could make, emails I could respond to.
My thought today, in response to my frequent question, was this: “Is that really what the world needs? Does the world need more of this kind of activity from me? Does it need more letters, emails, and phone calls from me?”
No, I don’t think so.
True enough, if I didn’t pray, I could do more of these things, but the world doesn’t need more of my efforts. What the world needs is more of the activity of God. Lives transformed, wounds healed, brokenness mended, lost things (and people) found, wrongs righted, mistakes forgiven, marginalized people loved.
When I stack up the two lists next to one another–my possible activities compared with the things I could be asking God for–it seems like a no-brainer as to which pursuit has an incredible inherent amount of eternal value.
The thing is, it doesn’t always feel so clear, so cut-and-dry about what’s a good use of my time and energy.
And it’s not to say that I don’t do worthwhile things, but are the two or three hours spent in conversation with God among the worthwhile tasks on my to-do list?
Compared with the other things I’m likely to fill my time with, I have to absolutely answer yes.
And so I continue to pray, sometimes only out of obedience and discipline. Many times, I’m not entirely sure of the outcomes of my words and thoughts.
But I suppose that’s not for me to worry about. God’s a Big Boy, He’s responsible for His own actions, and He knows how best to respond to the things I share with Him. I’m to do my part: I’m responsible for pleading on behalf of others, asking for mercy rather than judgment, seeking blessing.
Despite all the books and quotes that assure me that prayer is worthwhile, that it is work, valuable labor, I don’t expect that my question will ever entirely fade away.
That’s okay though. No harm in asking the question, thinking the thoughts, wondering. So long as the conversations between me and God continue on.