Practicing The Spiritual Discipline Of Prayer
Someone once said that when we work, we work; but when we pray, God works. It is difficult for God to work in someone’s life when they are walking around with their hands in their pockets, believing that they can handle life’s issues on their own. Bill Hybels, in his book, Too Busy Not To Pray, is emphatic when he states,
Prayerless people cut themselves off from God’s prevailing power, and the frequent result is the familiar feeling of being overwhelmed, overrun, beaten down, pushed around, defeated. Surprising numbers of people are willing to settle for lives like that. Don’t be one of them. Nobody has to live like that. Prayer is the key to unlocking God’s prevailing power in your life.
Through prayer, one enters into what Clement of Alexandria described as a “dialogue with God.” In that dialogue one finds intimacy with the Creator as, not only does one draw near to God, but God draws near to them. In that dialogue, one takes further steps toward becoming like the Son and are involved more deeply in God’s plan for their lives, seeing their plans fade away into the mist. It is in such an intimate setting, alone with God, that one’s heart is opened to receive God’s strength and energy. It is at the feet of God that our lives, having stepped into and been touched by His presence, begin to burst forth the fruits of the Spirit.
One must remember as Richard J. Foster writes, in his book, Celebration of Discipline, that “For those explorers in the frontiers of faith, prayer was no little habit tacked onto the periphery of their lives; it was their lives.” Yet in the hectic pace many keep, prayer falls by the wayside.
As my wife and I began to intentionally force ourselves to sit down together in the morning and at night to pray, we were blessed. We made sure to not create a “legalistic” rule and therefore did not “beat ourselves up” if we failed to pray one morning as we rushed out of the house or one evening as we fell exhausted into bed after the day’s activities. We simply got up the next day and continued to attempt to be very intentional about prayer together.
My wife and I are in a period of transition. I have been reappointed to Janes United Methodist Church in Rising Sun, Maryland starting July 1st. We will be leaving Rock Hall, Maryland the end of June; therefore, these last two months are filled with packing, mixed emotions, and countless responsibilities as I, as a pastor, attempt to “finish well” at one Charge and “start well” at another. On top of the transition we face, our oldest son is graduating high school and getting ready to go to college in the fall. At this time in our lives, prayer is vital.
One of the major concerns we have had in this transition is where we are going to live in Rising Sun as the church there does not provide a parsonage, but instead provides us with a housing allowance. For several weeks, my wife and I looked at rentals in the area, only to have one door after the next shut. We finally found a rental in a beautiful neighborhood with a pool for our children and committed. Three weeks later it fell through.
We prayed everyday that God would help us with our housing situation. It was brought to our attention that we might buy a home and so we decided to explore that option. On discovering that we were approved for a loan, we went up to Rising Sun to look at a home to purchase.
My wife prayed that God would “shut all doors” except the one He wanted us to walk through. Doors were quickly shut in our search as homes we looked at were too expensive, needed too much work, or were too far from the church.
One home stood out. It was a small rancher, with a basement and garage, in a family-friendly neighborhood, half mile from the church. It was brand new, never lived in, and we quickly fell in love with it.
So we made an offer. It was immediately turned down with no counter-offer made. We increased our offer by $8,000 and that offer was immediately turned down with no counter-offer made. My wife and I were at a standstill. What do we do? There were no other houses available that would work for us. We loved this house and felt God had led us to it. Yet, the door was closing.
Through prayer, my wife felt God telling her to “be still,” to “sit and wait.” Over and over God led her to listen to the song, “Help Me Find It,” by Sidewalk Prophets.
They sing, “If there’s a road I should walk…Help me find it…If I need to be still…Give me peace for the moment…Whatever Your will…Whatever Your will…Can you help me find it.” They sing, “I will trust in You…You’ve never failed before…I will trust in You.” My wife quoted these words to her worrying husband many times throughout the week.
I wanted to up the offer again and fight to get the house. But my wife told me again that she felt God was telling her that we should “be still,” to “sit and wait.” So we told the Realtor to let the seller know we were going to sit on our last offer and begin to look at other homes. And we prayed.
The next day was Sunday and I was getting ready to step into the pulpit at Rock Hall United Methodist Church. Three minutes before I stepped into the pulpit, my phone vibrated and I glanced at the message. The seller had reconsidered, called, and accepted our second offer. I was able to announce to my wife, along with the congregation, that God had answered our prayers. We were to become homeowners in Rising Sun.
My wife reminded this impatient preacher of a scene in the film, The Lord of the Rings, when Gandalf, the wizard, arrives on the scene. He says, “A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.” God, as well, is never late, nor is He early. God arrives precisely on time. And what surperb timing as my wife received a tremendous Mother’s Day gift…a home.
Prayer not only held us together during a stressful time, but prayers were answered and God moved. What is most important to remember is not that God answered our prayers by providing us a home in Rising Sun, but that through the process my wife and I drew closer to our Creator, our Heavenly Father, as well as closer to one another. To draw closer to God and one another is a much greater reward than any house. To drink “deep draughts” of God is greater than any blessing the world can give.
Rev. Drew M. Christian