written by Dawn Graczyk
a mom in our Sunshine Community
C.S. Lewis once wrote to a friend, “Well, now, let’s at any rate come clean. Prayer is irksome.”
Prayer is irksome? When I read this I was taken aback that C.S. Lewis, a man dedicated to the gospel called prayer irksome. Taken aback and then ENCOURAGED.
Prayer has long been my struggle. At one time I thought I was alone in this, but I am not. Search your library or bookstore for books on prayer. The resources are nearly endless. Churches hold classes and Bible studies on prayer. There are even movies devoted to being a prayer warrior and setting aside rooms for prayer.
Never have I needed prayer more. As a mother of six children, two with an untreatable and progressive neuromuscular disease, I am dependent on the strength of Christ more than any other time in my life. He is the only source of my strength and provides what I need to make it through each day. However, my day is crazy. It is filled with interruptions and long drives to therapy; diaper changes and potty training; homeschool and temper tantrums; cooking and dishes.
I love formula, protocol, and guidelines. Give me a step by step guide that works, and I’m a happy lady. But I’ve looked for a formula for prayer and found none that I have used consistently. I’ve tried new schedules, methods, and journals. I’ve set a schedule to pray the Bible, created a prayer box, made a beautiful handmade prayer journal, set the alarm earlier, and stayed up later. And I still fall short. Why? Because my life is not one of consistency.
Fortunately, God’s love is not dependent on the right formula or words. God says, “I don’t want your sacrifice or your perfect church attendance. I don’t want your poetic prayers and boxes checked off your yearly Bible reading schedule. I WANT YOUR HEART.” This is what Hosea 6:6 says to us, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
I give my heart to God daily. Many times a day. I am prone to wander. I become dissatisfied with the loneliness, the mundane. I tire from lack of sleep and constant demands. I hear the voice that says, “If you had only read one Psalm a day, but you slept too long. If you only prayed for an hour, but you couldn’t even do that. You fell asleep.” That voice makes me feel like giving up on prayer. I wonder if I’ll ever get it “right.”
In that moment, when I say, “God, please forgive my inadequacies as a mom and as your daughter. Please help me to pray in a way that pleases you,” I am giving God my heart. In that moment prayer is not a sacrifice, it is a joy, a relationship, a plea to my Father. Whether this prayer is written in a journal or not, whether it flows beautifully and full of eloquent metaphors and church language, it is my heart. God wants my heart.
God gave us words. He wants us to use these words to communicate not just with people but with HIM. At times we can sit quietly and find beautifully flowing words There are also times when our tears in the night and our one word, “Jesus” are just as God honoring. The beauty of language, as C.S. Lewis said, is to say what you really mean. God wants to hear what we really mean.
I do not want my children to come to me, to speak to me, because they feel guilty. I do not want my children to feel as though each word must be carefully chosen and orated with extreme care. No, I want my children to come freely and without fear. I want them to love me and because they love me. I want them to communicate with me regularly. I want them to be assured of my love and confident that I want to hear them, even when their words are childish. This is what God wants from us.
Instead of thinking of prayer solely as a discipline to be accomplished and a habit to be developed, we should think of prayer as a relationship and a lifeline. One day, perhaps my life will allow time for uninterrupted prayer in solitude and quiet. I look forward to that day. It is not today. Today, God steps into the life He gave me full of interruption, joy, and sorrow. He asks me to come to Him in each moment and seek Him in my need. He has even sent His Holy Spirit for the moments I say, “God I don’t even know WHAT to pray!” With this in mind prayer is no longer irksome. When this is my prayer, prayer is my heart and my heart is His.