Thursday, September 27, 2012

Unceasing Prayer

"Pray without ceasing."
I Thessalonians 5:17

I love this advice given by A. W. Tozer.

"Retire from the world each day to some private spot.
Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart
and a sense of God's presence envelops you.  
Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it.
Give yourself to God,
and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think.
Learn to pray inwardly every moment."

I used to wonder what it meant to "pray without ceasing".
Then, one day, it hit me...
it is living a life of constant communion....
with Almighty God.
None of us can stay on our knees 24/7.
Obviously, the Apostle Paul couldn't either.
But, I believe the point he was making in this passage
is that we must do as A. W. Tozer advises,
"Learn to pray inwardly every moment."

How precious are those times that we can retire from the world to a private spot!
Those are some of the most precious moments of my day.
Oh, to feel His presence completely envelop and surround!
To linger there until the surrounding noises begin to fade away,
and it is only HIM...
and me.
I usually pour out my soul to Him,
beginning with praise and gratitude and worship and thanksgiving
for all He has done for me.
Then I ask....
for so many things,
I must sound like a broken record.
He is so faithful to listen...
every time...
all the way to the end of my asking.
I never get a sense of God rolling His eyes in frustration
when He hears me ask for so much....
so often.
He never reminds me that I asked for the same, exact thing yesterday.
It is like He is hearing it all for the very first time.
I have His full, undivided attention.
He listens.
His presence is so near.
Sometimes, I feel that if I opened my eyes,
I could see at least a part of Him pass by...
as Moses did.
It is worth more than anything this world has to offer....
to experience this...
this wonder called "prayer".

Why do people neglect it?
Why does anyone find it a "chore" to pray??

After my asking is finished,
after I have poured out my soul to Him...
after it is all laid bare,
and transparent,
and vulnerable...
at His feet...
then I am the one who does the lingering.
I stay....
in the quiet and solitude and peace...
of His presence.
And I listen.
I wait.
I beg Him to speak to me.
I plead with Him to reveal to me
what is in His heart...
and on His mind.

He comes.
He speaks.
He opens His heart....

I am so reluctant to leave...
this place.
This moment.
This atmosphere.
His throne.
His feet.
His presence.

Life is going on.
My family is stirring.
There is laundry to wash...
and dry...
and fold...
and put away.
The globe, Teacher's Score Keys, and open lesson books remind me....
we need to start school....
shortly after breakfast.
I see a cobweb swishing this way and that,
as the ceiling fan above me continually swirls the air in the room.
Didn't I just clean this room not so long ago?
Where does all of the dust come from?
There are a pile of bills...
finances need to be figured out,
checks need to be written,
and mailed...
on time.
I hear a little voice,
"Mama, I'm hungry!"
Love washes over me...
how I love to cook for them....
be there for them....
do all I can...
to make their lives happy.

I linger...
just a moment longer...
so torn inside...
not wanting to leave...
His presence.

But, joy springs within me!
I don't have to!
I don't leave Him...
He doesn't leave me...
when I rise from this sanctuary of prayer!
He is with me...
all through the day....
as I clean toilets and cobwebs,
nourish my relationship with my husband,
nurture, instruct, and bond with my child,
encourage a friend,
cook meals,
wash dishes,
run errands,
buy groceries.


How many times have I heard His voice...
with me....
as I scrubbed a bathroom floor?

How many times have I called out to Him...
in tears of anguish,
while pushing a vacuum...
its noise muffling uncontrollable sobs?

I remember one time in particular.
I was going through a very hard place in my life.
It was a time of bewilderment over hurts that were inflicted
by someone I dearly loved.
It happened to be my turn to clean the church we attended,
and as I was running the vacuum,
Zach was playing nearby, as I cleaned.
I needed to cry,
but I didn't want him to see, wonder, and become upset.
The noisy motor of the vacuum cleaner was a welcome camouflage,
and he never even knew.
As I was vacuuming,
the precious Holy Spirit came to me in the most real, profound way.
He bound up my wounds,
and He inspired me simultaneously with both the words and the melody to "My Cross".
Though each song He has given me has a special place in my heart and holds unique meaning,
"My Cross" is undoubtedly the dearest and closest-to-my-heart song I have ever written.

When we keep our hearts tuned to a continual, non-ceasing state of prayer,
His voice transcends and overpowers any other noise and distraction.

He speaks to our spirit...
deep inside.

Through the years, Kevin and I have taken on cleaning jobs at different times
to supplement our income.
Though it is not only hard work,
but sometimes downright degrading,
I don't mind too much.
I've mentioned to Kevin many times that cleaning keeps us humble!
It's a little hard to feel proud while you are on your knees
cleaning around the base of a stranger's bathroom facilities!
While I'm down there,
I find it very easy to pray.
It's a great opportunity, really.  :)

Whatever my lot,
whatever is going on around me,
the conversation never really stops.
His still, small voice speaking...
my heart cries.....
at consistent intervals all throughout the day.

It is wonderful to live a life of prayer.
What glory to keep the line open,
free of obstruction,
clear of interference.

And though we can't stay on our knees every waking hour,
aren't you glad that isn't necessary?
Aren't you thankful the physical position isn't really what is important?

God doesn't look on the outward appearance,
He looks on the heart.

God hears whenever we pray,
from wherever we are.

His ears are always open,
and His heart always cares.

This is what it means to live a life of unceasing prayer.

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