“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Corrie Ten Boom, who is known for having helped Jews escape during World War II, posed the question “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”
The role prayer plays in a Christian’s life goes far beyond mere wishful thinking or good thoughts. Prayer is our direct line of communication to God! And prayer isn’t limited to asking for needs to be fulfilled! Praying also involves praises to a Providential God, humbling confessions to the Ultimate Forgiver, expressions of gratitude to a Gracious Giver, as well as lamenting to a Listening Father.
“True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.” – Charles Spurgeon
So what’s the life changing difference between prayer as the steering wheel and prayer as the spare tire? Prayer is meant to be a part of our everyday life, it allows us to take our hands off the wheel and say “Your will, Lord, not mine, be done.” Most of the time, this is easier said than done, isn’t it? It is this acknowledgment that is a driving force for prayer to be a part of who we are in Christ and not just for emergencies (the spare tire).
CALL TO ACTION
How can we encourage ourselves and our family to make prayer our steering wheel rather than the spare tire?
- Routine – An easy way to begin is to establish a prayer routine. The easiest times of the day to institute a family prayer time are before meals and bedtime. These do not have to be elaborate prayers but heartfelt ones. Here are 3 things to focus on: 1) for our children to see the importance of pausing to give thanks for our daily bread and for the hands that prepared it, 2) for our children to thank God for the day regardless of what happened, 3) for our children to learn from an early age the reverence that should be displayed when communicating with God (folded hands, head bowed, for example).
- Recognition – Our children can also be taught early on to recognize the need for praying for others or in difficult situations. It’s amazing how God often uses our children to remind us to pray! I remember driving through a storm many years ago and looking in the rearview mirror to see that one of my sons had his eyes closed. I asked him what he was doing. “Praying!” he responded. Out of the mouths of babes, right?
- Repetition – While routine sets the habit of when to pray, repetition develops what to pray. When our children were very little, for example, our bedtime prayer consisted of beginning with The Lord’s Prayer and ending with my husband praying for certain needs, praises or thanksgivings. Two things happen for our children with repetition: memorization (such as The Lord’s Prayer) and modeling (parents demonstrate how and what of prayer).
- Read – Is your prayer life lacking? If it is, don’t feel bad! A few years ago, I felt the same way! Our family prayers were great, but it was my own personal times with God that I felt were in need of revision. Seek resources that will encourage and inspire you to deepen your understanding of prayer. Incorporate the reading of Psalms into your daily routine. E.M Bounds, author of several books on prayer, wrote “Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.” Can I get an Amen?
- Remember – Keep a prayer journal! This is a wonderful way to keep track of specific prayer requests. Every few months, flip through the pages to remind yourself of which requests turned into praises, which trials turned into triumphs, and which sins are still being struggled with. You can also record Scripture that speaks to you for use in prayerful moments.
“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Martin Luther