“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
One morning last week it hit me hard. The morning started as it always does, I got up, checked messages, made breakfast and ate with the family. There was a nagging feeling in my soul – I needed far more than my morning prayer routine (and don’t you just hate the word “routine” when it comes to prayer?). I told my wife I needed more time in prayer that day.
It was one of my days to drive our daughter to school, so I dropped her off and headed to the church office.
As soon as I arrived at the office, I had tons of work to do including finishing up the sermon and liturgy for Sunday, review the mail, finish some administrative work and make follow up calls to a few sick members. The nagging feeling grew and as I was about to head up to the sanctuary, I received another prayer request, one of deep concern for a member.
At this point, I knew everything else could wait, in fact nothing else could be done without the prayer time so I went into the sanctuary, put on some reflective music and began to pray.
On this particular morning, I slowly read the daily scriptures, sat in silence giving God the space to speak to me, allowed the Lord to refresh my soul, and then began to lift up the prayer requests.
“…apart from me you can do nothing.” Those words of Jesus are so true. Most of us have lots to do every day and it is so easy to get caught up in those “to do” lists. Yet prayer time should never be on a list. It should not be one chore of many that needs to be accomplished then checked off. It needs to be viewed the same as breathing – something we must do to live.
Have you thought much about breathing? We usually do not, and we usually breathe in a less than effective way – quickly taking short breaths. But the most beneficial breathing is to breathe deeply and slowly, allowing each breath to be calming. Prayer is the same. We can always do short, quick prayers – and there is a place for them – but truthfully, extended time in prayer is far more important than many of those tasks we do.
As you go about your new week, spend a little more time with God. Breathe deeply and slowly as you read scripture. Say the Lord’s Prayer s-l-o-w-l-y and deliberately. Offer real time to God and see what happens.