God 52’s new editor Jamie decided that he’d let his first contribution to the site be an honest one. So here are his struggles with our second challenge.
I fell asleep praying this morning. I woke up half an hour later and my first thought was: Can I include this as part of my three hours of prayer that I need to get done this week? It was totally Godly rest, I was soaking in his presence, that was definitely praying. That is definitely one-sixth of my three hours prayer for the week, and my how the person I was praying for must have been blessed by me catching up on sleep.
I wasn’t even kidding myself.
You’ve probably come across people like me previously. I’m the one who, at a prayer meeting, suggests that this entire conversation is prayer and so there is no need for a specific prayer section. I’m the one who humbly lets other people pray while making all the right noises of agreement at the right time, while trying desperately not to get distracted. I’m the one who is really channelling Jesus when I pray in a short, un-showy way, because it really isn’t about the words we use, and not because I bore myself 15 seconds into my own prayer.
The truth is I really struggle to pray. It could be because of my extrovert nature, where I need to be doing four things at a time just to feel settled, it could be because I’m not used to quiet, or it could just be that I’m so self-involved that the idea of giving up some of my free time to talk to the wall seems like a waste of time that I could be on iPlayer/Twitter/Football Manager/a bouncy castle.
Yet honestly, I know it’s important. I struggle to read the Bible as well (another story), but I love reading about Jesus. It could just be our shared initials, love of facial hair or anecdotes that you need to work hard to understand, but I find him utterly compelling, and so if I’m struggling to read the Bible, I go straight back to John. And there’s this trend in the Gospels that just as his ministry is booming, as people are flocking to hear him, Jesus disappears to pray for a bit. He doesn’t wait until the people have left, he leaves them, leaves the crowd, leaves the attention and goes and spends time with his Father. And whenever I read these stories I have two thoughts; firstly, I wish I had a boat I could just disappear in, and secondly, man, this really is important, this really is what I have to ground my ministry, my life, my work, my relationships in.
So I have this system in place. Every morning my alarm goes off on my phone, and it tells me to pray and read my Bible. That’s it. It’s simple. But it works. Honestly. This week I’ve put in a few more reminders on my phone – at times that I know I’ll be pretty much free my phone has told me to pray to meet this three-hour target.
I haven’t had an epiphany yet, prayer isn’t suddenly easier, God hasn’t intervened in the situation I’m praying about. But I’m getting there. I’m working at it. I’m trusting. By Tuesday, I’ll have prayed far more than I normally would, it will become a bit of rhythm, it may feel a bit easier, and if I’m lucky, I won’t have fallen asleep while doing it.
Maybe that’s enough, maybe this #God52 malarky isn’t about seeing the world change but seeing ourselves change, maybe making a prayer a bit more of a way of life is more than enough for this week.