Every year I go through a self-examination process around my birthday, which was a couple of weeks ago. And in that self-examination process I look at all areas of my life and see where I’m doing okay, where I’m doing better than okay, and areas where I need to improve. One of the things that God really impressed upon my heart is my prayer life. I pray at the appropriate times… before meals, with my children before bedtime, before I lead a class and upon completion of that class, and at random other times throughout the day. The random other times throughout the day is the problem. There isn’t consistency and purpose in my prayer life other than those expected times.
“Now, my son, the LORD be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the LORD your God, as he said you would. May the LORD give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God. Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. – 1 Chronicles 22:11-13, NIV
These are the words spoken to Solomon by his father David. David knew what it was like to stray from God’s decrees. And he had paid a heavy price for it within his own family. The words that really hit home are “if you are careful to observe” which David stated. Careful. As in taking time, observing properly, and being disciplined to ensure it happens. Which is the exact opposite of what I was finding in my prayer life. Yes, I was praying and praying a lot. But there was no discipline to it. And that’s a big problem. Prayer shouldn’t be an after thought. It shouldn’t be something we do only as a reaction. And it must go beyond those expected times like for meals. It is appropriate to pray as a reaction. For instance, when we heard about the earthquake in Haiti, I’m sure quite a few Christians went to the Lord in prayer. But a solid prayer life should be about more than this. It should show a consistent time and effort with God.
So that’s where I am. It’s something I know I need to be better about. Purchasing a small journal to record prayer concerns, answers to prayer, and things I learn while in prayer is a useful tool. Buying a couple of books on prayer from authors with great insight are other great tools. But they are just that: tools. The real change is up to me. I must take prayer up as a serious priority in my life. Scripture is clear about its importance, about its effectiveness, and about its usefulness in the life of a Christian. None of those things can be realized if I don’t become disciplined in my prayer life. Therefore, I must.
Is there something going on in your walk with God that is not where it should be? Have you done a self-examination recently to note any weaknesses in your spiritual life? If not, it’s something that needs to be done fairly regularly. If there is an area of weakness (we all have them, no matter how much we improve), that’s what to attack next. Perhaps it’s Bible reading. Maybe it’s sharing the faith. Or it could be an issue with genuine worship. There are plenty of areas that God could target if we only let Him. I want to let Him, because it’s the only way I improve. It’s the only way I can be careful to observe His decrees and laws. And it’s the only way I can be more like my Savior.