Honestly, I never realized prayer can tucker a person out. Not in a bad way, in a good way. Think of it like when people hit the gym. They have a good workout, but they’re tired yet they come back feeling good as well, almost energized. This is what I mean by being tuckered out by prayer. It’s being tired in a good way.
I started out wanting to be strengthened in prayer. At our church, we’ve been encouraging people to go deeper in prayer and in their prayer life. I also recently wrapped up a sermon series on spirituality and I’ve been doing adult education on spirituality. I figured if I’m going to preach and teach on this stuff, I better learn how to do it and do it well. Well, at least how to do it in such a way that I can give my experiences in how I’ve done it.
Dude! It was harder than I thought it’d be.
I had been doing simple Bible reading and prayer for a number of months (years maybe?) and I wanted to do more than that. To be honest, I struggled with maybe getting to 10 minutes of Bible reading and prayer (10 minutes you might think? Dude! That’s amazing, I hardly get three before making a shopping list). So I started beginning mindful contemplative prayer.
That is much harder work than it sounds. And I emphasize work. We think that prayer should be easy. And to be honest, once you get into the groove, it is very easy. It just can be a bugger of a thing to start. I’ve heard it said that it take 6 weeks to get into a habit of doing something but only two weeks to fall out of a habit of doing something. In other words, you have to be mindful of what you’re doing and why. And that’s true with mindful contemplative prayer.
And so I picked up a book suggested to me called A Guide to Prayer for all who Walk with God by the Upper Room. In the book they emphasize silence (hence my earlier post “Shhhh, Chatty Monkey) before reading the Bible. And I’ve been working on that.
Dude! It’s hard work to be silent. As I read scripture, I first begin with silence. Hard. Then I read Scripture. Easy. Then I’m silent again. Hard. Then the book gives some direction in other Scripture reading and prayers to pray, which is helpful. Then I pray. Which has become hard.
I started wondering to myself (because a pastor brought this up to me) if my prayers from yesterday were answered today with a yes, what would my day look like?
Would I get to some place safely (even though if I obeyed the speed limit and wore a seat belt I should be fine)? Would I do well on my homework (I’m working on my Doctor of Ministry). Would I know that God was with me today? Would I lose 10lbs after eating at Mr. Burger three days in a row? Or would something more happen? Would my children become spiritual leaders in their school and grow in their faith as they see where they can be Jesus? Would I begin relationships with people outside of the Christian community? Would people I know have restored relationships? Would justice begin to be done? Would wars cease?
What would today look like if my prayers from yesterday were answered with a "yes"?
And my mindful contemplative prayers took on a new meaning. I began to pray more fervently. And it began to tucker me out. But in a good way.
God, I know for certainty, hears my prayers. He hears the prayers of the faithful. He hears the prayers of the oppressed. He hears the prayers of those in need. He hears the prayers of those who are doing just fine. He hears our prayers. And He answers them. Sometimes with a yes, sometimes with a wait, and other times with a no. But he answers.
And I come to Him in prayer.
Now, I’m not trying to brag. In fact, I’ve failed epically a number of times in my prayer life (even recently to be honest). Yet there’s something about praying in such a way that you get tuckered out like you just got back from the gym.
How can you pray yourself tired but in a good way? How can you do a mindful contemplative prayer today? Try it. Start slowly and work your way up. Give it 7 weeks of a few times a week and see what happens. Something will. And it’ll tucker you out, but in a God way.