The Prayer Life
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2
For much of my life, I’ve approached prayer like this: I usually just do whatever I think best. My main determinant in what I think, say, and do, is me. I’m in charge and I make the decisions. It’s only when I get stuck, and can’t solve some problem, that I go to God in prayer. God, fix this for me. Once I get to that point, I’ve run out of options and so I finally ask God to take over. I then use prayer as an excuse not to do anything. Maybe the solution is too difficult, so I don’t want to do it. I use prayer as an escape, hoping for the easy, miraculous way out.
This is the life pattern that led to my addiction. I simply did whatever I wanted. Then, when life fell apart, I asked God to fix it. He told me to go to treatment, confess, and change my life. I wasn’t about to do any of those things, so I used prayer as my escape. God, I’m asking for your help. Why don’t you fix this? Just take it all away. Prayer was simply my attempt to avoid reality.
In today’s passage though, Paul prescribed a very different approach to prayer. In it, he said that we must continue steadfastly in prayer. As Christians, prayer is meant to be a way of life. When we get up in the morning, instead of asking, “What do I want to do today?” we should be asking “What does God want me to do today?” Instead of going to God only when we can’t figure things out, we should take everything to God. Daily, we must ask God what his will is, then, we must do it. God wants us to know an intimate relationship with him and prayer is the continual conversation that keeps us connected. Ideally, we should be talking to God all day long.
This isn’t natural and it doesn’t just happen automatically though. It takes practice and discipline. For me, it means choosing to set my alarm early so I can get up, get my coffee, and pray. Then, I must remind myself many times a day to keep it up. I’m not very good at keeping the conversation going all day, but I’m getting better. When I continually communicate with God, I learn to live in that relationship, I make better choices, and I experience the life, joy, and peace for which he made me.
Prayer is meant to be a way of life. If we use it as a last resort or as an excuse not to do the right thing, then we’re doing it wrong.