Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

12 June 2009

Prayer - (2) Quantity

I always feel it well to put a few words of prayer between everything I do.
So said Charles Spurgeon. And CJ Mahaney quoted him here as he wrote about punctuating his day with prayer, humbling himself before God in each new event rather than relying on his own self-sufficiency.

As I make my way from meeting to meeting, decision to decision, and phone call to phone call, I find the counsel of Charles Spurgeon very helpful. “I always feel it well,” he wrote, “to put a few words of prayer between everything I do.” Throughout his busy days, Spurgeon scattered words of prayer between each activity, a model I have sought to emulate over the years.
I really, really, really like this idea.

It's not a substitute for periods of extended, focussed prayer. But it's about coming to God at frequent intervals during the day – making sure that we are relying on Him in all that we do, that we are serving Him in all that we do, giving the mundane activity some purpose and doing such tasks with a cheerful, thankful heart - and keeping the things of God as our main priority throughout the day.

Since reading this I have been thinking about how this practice of pausing to pray before each new thing might apply in the life of a stay at home mum. Because the life of a stay at home mum is not divided into neat hourly blocks. I seem to move to something new every three minutes or so...from hanging out the washing to assisting in locating that critical piece of Lego to sweeping the leaves off the trampoline to dinner preparation and oh yes, back to hanging out that load of washing that was interrupted by the Lego! The days can pass by in a bit of a blur of unfinished activity. Which is fine. This is the nature of life with smalls.

But how might Spurgeon's model apply when life lacks a bit of structure?

1. Use cues in the environment. A friend of mine gave me some really groovy clothes pegs at one stage. At the time she was in great need of prayer and so I got into the habit of praying for her every time I put out the washing. That habit remains – she gets a lot of prayer because I do a lot of washing! This is one example of many.

2. I have the prayer diary of the main mission society we support and also our church's directory on my recipe rack in the kitchen. I seem to be in the kitchen a lot – doing things that don't take a lot of concentration so I use the time to pray through those lists of people. You can cover quite a lot of territory in a day this way!

3. The thing that punctuates my day is people - the people I meet at school drop off and pick up times, the people I might visit or who visit me, the people I speak to and do business with at the shops. I have decided, spurred on by Spurgeon (and CJ Mahaney!) to use people rather than appointments as markers in my day. So I am trying to stop (actually stop) and pray before I go to school, on my way to see someone, on my way to answering the door when someone calls by at our house – praying for those I will meet, praying for a valuable and encouraging interaction, praying that I will be like this.

4. Pray with our children. When something happens or someone comes to mind and prayer is required – or in any of the above three categories – I am just starting to try to form the habit of praying about it with our children. It is one thing to be praying often and silently (which is fine) but I have also become aware that our children need to see this habit of praying frequently throughout the day modelled too so that they learn to "pray without ceasing" and realise that prayer doesn't just happen when saying grace or goodnight prayers. And by teaching them this habit maybe they might even remind me to pray about something one day. That would be a joy.

I'm not too bad at the first two ideas. The second two are new habits that I am trying to form.

I always feel it well to put a few words of prayer between everything I do.
Well, between EVERYTHING may not be practical, but frequently has got to be a good alternative. Any other ideas?

1 comment:

the sojourner said...

Hi Meredith- thanks for this post- i found it really encouraging. Time to start new habits :)