This was the topic of church this weekend. A small, simple verse but one that can be potentially overwhelming when we think about how to live it out. As I sat listening, I began to think back over my day... Had I really gone an entire day without praying??? Then I remembered that I had sent up a quick prayer for patience because I was going into a meeting with a resident who has a tendency to talk. And talk. And talk. I did not, however, follow up with the "Thank you, Lord" prayer after my meeting. He had definitely heard my request, because the meeting was long, but I was focused, patient and understanding. During church, I sent my belated gratitude up to God and wondered how many other blessings I had received during the day that I was either too busy to acknowledge or if I was feeling entitled or ungrateful and didn't take time to give credit where it was due.
During the message at church, we were given three ways that we can fulfill this command to pray without ceasing (1Thess. 5:17). The first was to use our world: what we see, hear, smell and taste, as stimulants to gratitude. The sunset - Thank you Lord for creating such beauty for us to appreciate, for creating the sun to provide us with warmth. A yummy lunch - Thank you Lord for providing me with the resources to make this food and for these people to share it with.
The second prompt was to pray about what God can do in my life. I can take opportunities during the day to pray about my life and the lives of my family - for health, for safety, for spiritual growth, for wisdom, for guidance... For a new job, for a regular sleeping schedule, for freedom from bullies, etc. This is the time for me to present my requests before God with the knowledge that His Will will be done and with the appreciation that His plan is better than mine. :)
The third way for us to pray continuously was to pray about what He can do in the lives of those around me. I can pray for those in traffic with me, for the family across town who just had their house burn down, for the residents at work, for my co-workers, for my extended family... This is the category that never ends. For our President and governmental leaders, for those still suffering in Japan and Missouri, for the other children at my kids' school, teachers, pastors, friends, and on and on... This alone would take up all my time if I were paying attention to the situations that present themselves as opportunities for me to pray.
So, I prayed. I prayed a quick prayer asking for forgiveness for all the things I knew were in my heart that I should have brought before the Lord. I realized that during the school year, each morning when I dropped the kids off, I said a prayer for them - for protection, for boldness and for them to remember to be kind and loving. I would also pray for the safety of their teachers and classmates. Since school ended, I haven't had that ritual that reminded me to pray each day. This is my opportunity to return to that fantastic habit.
*On a side note, Pastor mentioned some things that he prays for and one of them was very powerful. He said that each day when he comes home, he touches the heads of his children and quickly prays for healing of whatever emotional scars they received that day. I thought that was so powerful... Thank you Ryan Nunez for that encouragement and parental guidance! You rock!
So, today I'm praying. But first, I'm praying about praying. I asked God to open my eyes and ears to the moments where I can/should lift situations and people up to Him. I prayed for a heart of gratitude and worship. Thank you Lord for my church and for providing me with the resources to get there this week. Thank you for my job and for the opportunities I have, each day, to love on people and to show them grace and mercy. Thank you for my coworkers who are so supportive and encouraging. Thank you for.....