Can we talk about prayer today? I have struggled with prayer my whole life, and have never found a way to keep a habit of prayer going for more than a few weeks. Let’s keep it real: silent prayer makes me sleepy. Silent prayer at 6am after several rounds of Midnight Mothering is pretty much impossible. For awhile, before my husband became the pastor of Tiny Town Baptist, I would pray out loud in the mornings while he was at work. Once we moved here, though, his schedule changed and suddenly here we both were, in the same space, every morning. Praying out loud became a bit of a problem, and so I quit.
Ironic, huh? Becoming a pastor’s wife damaged my prayer life. Not exactly what most people would predict, I assume. I mean, aren’t pastor’s wives extra super holy? Don’t we just kind of walk around in a glowy state of prayerfulness all the time, whilst answering our children’s questions about the nature of the Godhead and whipping up meals to send to all the shut-ins and proofreading her husband’s sermons and leading fifteen different Bible studies each day? I mean, if a homeschooling pastor’s wife has any struggles at all in her day, they undoubtedly center around which denim jumper to wear or which book of the Bible to memorize next. (Hmmmm . . . Leviticus? Or Revelation? Tough choice!) Not prayer.
Prayer is such a basic part of a believer’s life. We teach our kids that song– read your Bible; pray every day, and you’ll grow– grow– GROW!!!! and we know it’s true. I mean, the two most basic parts of the faith I grew up with are God’s Word and prayer. We are to pray for wisdom, pray in thankfulness, pray for strength, pray for the missionaries, pray for our husband and our children and our church and our country and the Peace Of Jerusalem. We tell others we’ll pray for them, and maybe we even usually mean it when we say it. But if you’re anything like me, then you fail pretty often at that list.
My prayer life, aside from a few really great months here and there, has basically consisted of prayers at church in prayer meeting, dinnertime prayers, and desperate prayers for help when my car was sliding on the ice or someone had just wet their pants again or I couldn’t figure out how to teach my kid long division or my computer crashed in the middle of something Important. And I knew this wasn’t sufficient. Don’t get me wrong; I believe God wants us to turn to Him in our emergencies, but I believe He has so much more for us that we don’t discover until we set aside real time to pray.
God loves us and meets our needs when all we send up are panic prayers, but He longs to have a relationship with us. Relationships require communication and openness on both sides. God opens up His heart to us in His Word, and we open our hearts to Him in prayer. Without regular, persistent, honest, sometimes gut-wrenching times of prayer, we never reach the intimacy God desires for us and that our souls were made for.
I have spent literal years under conviction for my sad excuse for a prayer life. I have made excuses and I have ignored God’s direction and I have muddled through experiences that He longed to meet me in because I was too proud or ashamed or busy or stupid to pray. I am thankful for a God who pursues me, even when I’m thick-skulled and ridiculously stubborn.
Can I be honest with you? I mean, I have been honest with you already about my prayer life and the general lameness of it for the last thirty years. But I need to be honest about something else. All that stuff about pastors’ wives is baloney. Or bologna. Choose your favorite spelling. If you’re one of my kids who shall remain nameless you might go with “dulonee.” Ahem.
The truth is that I’ve only been a pastor’s wife for two years, and nothing about our family magically changed when we moved from seminary and suburbia to the pastorate and the pasturelands (see what I did there?). I do not walk around in a state of glowy prayerfulness. I mostly walk around in a state of stretchy-pantsed ponytailedness. My kids seldom ask questions about the nature of the Godhead, but they are very intrigued by bodily functions and the smells associated with them. I don’t whip up many meals for the shut-ins, but I do whip up a mean Kraft macaroni and cheese with hot dogs. I don’t proofread my husband’s sermons, but I do critique his grammar and spelling on his Facebook updates. I currently do not lead any Bible studies, although I am super good at leading the pack with chatting during Bible study time and forgetting to do my lesson until the last minute.
My point is, I’m just a regular person. A mom. The fact that my husband is a pastor doesn’t really change any of that, except to make me more neurotic about it. And one thing that becoming a pastor’s wife did not change was my prayer life. Do you know what changed my prayer life? Choosing to have one. Just a choice. A choice to do it even when it felt awkward. A choice to find a way to make it work for me– in my schedule, with my life, with my personality.
I want to tell you about it, about what works for me, about what God has done in me because of it. Because I had no idea what I was missing in my spiritual walk, in my relationship with my Lord, until I began to spend time regularly in prayer before Him. No idea. And I expect that if you struggle in the same way, you probably have no idea either. And I want you to know, my friend, because God desires to have this precious relationship with you, and He created you to need it, and I believe that it is only found in its fullness by those who make the choice to set aside the excuses and take up the beautiful blessing of prayer.
Tomorrow I will (hopefully) be back to tell you all about what God has been teaching me in recent months in regards to prayer. He and I have fought some pretty fierce battles together. He has met me in my times of deepest need and walked with me through the valley of the shadow of death. He will do the same for you, my friend.
I hope you’ll join me tomorrow.