I remember the day well.
I was in grade 10 and we had just lost a high school basketball game. We lost a lot of games that year. In fact, we lost all of them (we weren’t very good). But this is one of the few we could have won.
Needless to say, I wasn’t in the best mood when I got home. I went straight to my room and shut the door. All I wanted to do was go to bed. But then my phone rang. It was my girlfriend, Gail. She was going through a tough time at home due to some family issues and asked me if I would go over to see her. I was torn. I wanted to be there for Gail but I admittedly wanted some alone time.
Spoiler alert: I ended up going to see her.
This July, Gail and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Not necessarily because I went to go see her that night 30 years ago, but the experience reminds me of something very important: we sometimes spend time with our best friends, boyfriends or girlfriends, or spouses even when we don’t feel like it. We do it for the sake of the relationship.
The same must be true about your relationship with Jesus. And prayer doesn’t only HELP your relationship with Jesus, it IS your relationship with Jesus.
But sometimes we treat prayer like it’s a chore or a duty. Meaning, we may end up avoiding it like we try to avoid other chores or duties in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to wash the dishes, clean the bathrooms, mow the lawn, or do the laundry. I often procrastinate and find excuses to put these chores off. If I don’t do these chores, our home will be a lot messier and less enjoyable to live in.
Prayer is not so much about doing, rather it’s all about being. In a hyper-busy and over-scheduled world, it’s a challenge for us to sit quietly and to be still but this is exactly how we get to know Jesus.
Think of your best friend, your boyfriend or girlfriend, or your spouse again.
How did you get to know this person?
There are two fundamental ways: you talked with each other and you spent time with each other.
When you were first cultivating a relationship with this person, you spent time talking with each other. This led to good memories which you wanted to repeat. So it created a desire to spend more time together. Which created more memories and deeper understanding of one another. Which created a desire to spend more time together. And so on.
Our relationship with Jesus is the same: the more time we spend with Him, the more we will create a desire in us to BE with Him. And like any relationship, our friendships are based on more than just feelings. We spend time with our best friends even when we don’t feel like it.
Remember my basketball example?
The context of our relationship should override our feelings and emotions. The same must be true with our prayer life: you may not feel like praying or spending time with Jesus, but for the sake of the relationship you do.
Jesus is indeed your friend. That means that He will be with you through thick and thin and that you can call on Him anytime. But it also means we need to be continually working on the relationship. It has to be intentional or it won’t grow.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta said: “Love to pray. For prayer gives a clean heart. And a clean heart can see God.”
In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul says to “Pray constantly…always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus to God the Father.”
We are called to pray without ceasing. To live our lives as a prayer. To pray as we live and to live as we pray. But that starts simply by carving out just a little bit of time. Like meeting a new friend, you ease into it. The more you get to know Him, the more you will crave to hear His voice.