One of the many books I'm reading (there's always many!) is A Beginner's Guide to Prayer by Michael Keiser. This is one I keep for my morning prayer time. This is also, for some reason, one of those books that have sat on my shelf for over 14 years - why I haven't ever read it all the way yet through is beyond me. But it has finally found its way into my 'Devotion Bucket' - a rustic wooden basket that sits by my comfy chair and lamp where I sit in the morning to do my devotion time with God. Oh how I love and cherish that time.
If we love God, we want to get to know Him. We want to spend time with Him. We want to become one with Him. This is why we pray. Anyone who truly desires to grow closer to God must develop a disciplined prayer life. Now what that looks like is probably different from one person to the next. But it's there. And, I believe, the more disciplined you are, the closer you become. Many of us have struggled with prayer life, including me. That's why this book was written and that's why, finally, I took it off the shelf. I was motivated because I've recently been inspired by a friend who has gone through a terrible ordeal in her life over the past year. Despite the hardship, through it all, she is constantly turning to God and finding her strength in Him. She spends about two hours a day with Him. Every morning. I admit jealousy. To have TWO hours each day. I don't know how she does it. But rather than brood over the impossibility of getting in two hours myself, without additional sleep deprivation, I allowed it to inspire me. Surely, if I desire it, I can get in a half hour occasionally? Yes. I can. So my alarm on my phone each morning, set at least an hour before my youngest usually rises, reads "Wake and Pray". And I stumble out to the kitchen, mumbling the Jesus Prayer as best I can, drink my first 16 ounces of H2O while I make my bulletproof coffee and head for my chair. I know that when I open my bible and do the day's readings, study a psalm or two (I'm currently trying to memorize psalm 1 - my favorite), read and study another chapter of Isaiah (my most current study) and a few pages of another book in my basket (A Beginner's Guide to Prayer, 1,000 Gifts Devotional, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day devotional, and several others), he will open Himself up to me so that I can learn about Him, so that He can speak to me and , yes, so that I can, over time and with all the other apects of a faithful life taught to us by the Church, become one WITH HIM.
There are some that don't believe we need to pray at home or at divine services, or fast or partake of the body of our Lord. But I agree with St. John Kronstadt who wrote "Why is it necessary to pray at home, and to attend divine services in church? Well, why is it necessary for you to eat and drink, to take exercise, or to work every day? In order to support the life of the body and strengthen it." The author of this book says, "Prayer is not an end in itself, but a means by which we draw closer to God." We pray as a response to God's love for us, and we pray in order to show our love for God. Just as we reach out to talk with others that we love, we reach out in prayer to talk with God. And the more you do this, whether it is during a set morning prayer time or another part of your day, the more you can hear Him speak.
I'm so glad God woke me early this morning. I spent extra time with him and this blog post just rolled right onto a piece of notebook paper in the comfort of my chair. I'll be typing it up later - and more posts on prayer will be coming. I promise. It's important. I leave you now with the words of Psalm 1 and our Lord's Prayer. Have a wonderful blessed day full of prayer.
Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the troublesome.
But his will is in the law of the Lord; and in his law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree planted by streams of waters, that produces its fruit in his season; and his leaf shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
Not so are the ungodly, not so: but they are like the dust the wind drives from the face of the earth.
Therefore the ungodly shall not rise in the judgment, nor sinners in the counsel of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father In Heaven
Hallowed be Your name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.