A second guest blog on this week’s challenge subject – praying consistently – from web developer and cartoonist (hence the avatar) Ryan Cartwright.
I was once told that sport is about consistency. Apparently to achieve greatness at a sport you need more than talent, you need to produce that talent time after time. My dictionary says consistency is “Reliability of successive results or events” and here is my problem with consistency when applied to prayer. If consistency is about achievement, if consistency is measuring results against each other then how can it apply to prayer? What is an achievement or result in prayer? How do we measure prayer and therefore how can prayer be consistent?
As it happens, my prayer life is consistent. It’s a consistent struggle, it always has been and I have come to terms with the fact that it always be. I’ve done the snoring-at-the-sunrise quiet time, I’ve read the books, tried the plans and my personal prayer-life remains like an engine that needs new spark plugs: it refuses to start. Through all this, that scripture has nagged at me: “Pray without ceasing”. I’ve always known it didn’t mean every sentence I said needed to end with “Amen” but still felt the pressure to pray every day. I often feel there’s too much emphasis on prayer. We make it sound like everything God does depends on something we usually forget to do.
The truth is we can’t measure prayer anymore than we can define what makes a good tune and of course God doesn’t depend on prayer: he cares that we do it but it is we who have made it a necessity. If we free prayer from the shackles of duty and measurement we are free to pray. Realising this changed my life. I am able to tell people I will pray for them without feeling guilty for a start. That’s because I am no longer promising a stream of regular incantations but offering to remember them to God. I find I best do this by bringing God into my thoughts when I suddenly remember them. This can happen at any time of day, at the traffic lights, in the bath, walking the dog, watching a movie. Yes I try (and fail) to spend dedicated time with God most days but I no longer put such an emphasis on it because I know I can stay in touch with him through the day. Funnily enough I realised recently that this is something I can be consistent at.
Ryan Cartwright is a web developer and cartoonist who has been blogging since before the term was invented. A Father of two and youth worker based in Essex, he has a passion for freedom and a weakness for Haribo. You can find him at http://www.crimperman.org and @crimperman