Prayer seems to come naturally to some and not to others. From my side of the fence it appears that being a natural pray-er goes hand-in-hand with being an early rising introvert. I am, in case you were in any doubt, neither of those things.
For me, setting up a regular pattern of prayer is a struggle. Something I’ve been taught is important but, if I’m honest, is the single thing that most makes me feel like a bad Christian.
But since all of the children’s teachers, youth leaders, and pastors in my life have stressed the importance of a regular time of prayer, every six months or so I recommit to embedding it into my otherwise un-routined life.
I pick my prayer method and think that if I go at it with enough resolve this will be the time my character will change and I’ll become a natural pray-er.
Now, this is entirely within my character. I am a sprinter not a marathon runner. I love me a good three month project. Long enough to get my teeth into a task but not so long that I’ve lost momentum. This lack of followthrough is best summarised in my holiday bed routine.
The sand-free bed aspiration
Whenever we go on holiday near a beach I have a clear aspiration, to keep our bed sand-free! Admittedly, with two little girls this has become more of a dream than a reality but I can still aspire to a sand-free bed.
This is how my attempts transpire:
For the first couple days of the holiday I conscientiously clean my feet before sleep and make the bed each morning. I wake up feeling smug in my sand-free linen. But a few nights in, it gets late and I can’t wait for my head to hit the pillow. I climb into bed with sandy soles and wake up the next morning knowing that there’s no way I’ll be able to get the sand out! I’ve failed.
My prayer life feels like a constantly sandy bed. Never able to rid my soul of the specks of sand.
Prayer is important but I’m not a failed Christian because I struggle to fit in a ‘quiet time’. I suspect this puts me in the majority. I’ve found that my return to work after maternity leave has brought some routine back into my week. I’m currently trying to do Morning Prayer while sitting on the train. I don’t always remember. Or even if I do remember I certainly don’t always read all of the set readings. But each day I remember it’s a brief moment of turning my face to God.
If your life, for whatever reason, makes carving out prayer time a doomed task, take heart- you are not alone! Please don’t do what I’m often tempted to do, don’t allow the distance between your prayers to discourage you to sit down and pray. If you only manage to pick up your Bible once a month, God knows why, don’t let that discourage you from reading it next month. It’s not about having a sand-free bed, it’s about having an open heart.