The prayer spoke in my wheel has been short since the day my oldest was born. I used to journal for hours on end and could actually sit for long periods of time with my eyes closed and not fall asleep. I’ve coped in various ways, but extended times of prayer continue to elude me.
I understand that part of my struggle is my season of life and the age of my kids, as well as my lack of discipline and short attention span. There are many factors – none of which will be resolved any time soon. In the meantime, I know I need it. I can’t go months on end without communing with the Lord on a deeper level.
It’s why I make prayer appointments.
I have a few friends who know how hard this is for me. They know I need to come with my little list of issues that are rattling around in my mind and sit with them and pray. They know I need to be in their homes because my laundry piles distract me. They know I need to externally process a little before we figure out what to pray about first. They know I’ll probably cry, but not because I’m sad, but because I’m relieved to finally have my heart still for a moment before Him. They know they can’t pray about their stuff.
It’s a big ask. It takes a special kind of person. It’s an act of spiritual generosity. It’s a necessary step outside of my comfort zone.
It’s outside of my comfort zone because I’m a thousand times more comfortable wading into other people’s thoughts and concerns. It’s part of my training to dig and press and lean into issues of the heart for other people. After over a decade on staff, I almost can’t help myself – students, friends, strangers – I’ll know their deepest struggles before they know my name.
But my own heart – my own needs – I can leave those unattended for long stretches of time and that’s why those prayer appointments are necessary. It’s as if my worries, unconfessed sin, needs, and hopes accumulate in the closet under the stairs. If I’m lucky, I’ll recognize the door is starting to bulge out a little – it usually comes out in the form of a sharp word or a sleepless night.
But sometimes – it busts open in a deluge of spiritual fatigue, anxiety, guilt, and fear.
Those times are fewer and farther between when I’ve made the effort to pray with my close friends and to let those issues come into the light with their help.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
I use the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s prayer as scaffolding for my daily time in prayer which have served me well in recent years.