"The great reason why our prayers are ineffectual is because we do not meditate before them."
Ah--the WHEN? question.
I thought about saving it until last. But if I did that, there would be many who may not even find it in their important daily routines to even finish the 5-day series. So, why don't we just throw it all out there on the table on Day 2 and be done with it.
I am aware of all of the issues surrounding 21st century prayer and schedules and time management and this is a different day and so on and so forth. But before we unpack all of that, let us first see what the Word has to say. (For definitions of the words referenced, see Day 1 of the Meditation study.)
Joshua 1:8-"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate (hagah) therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."
Psalm 1:2-"But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate (hagah) day and night."
Psalm 35:28-"And my tongue shall speak (hagah) of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long."
Psalm 63:6-"When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate (hagah) on thee in the night watches."
Psalm 71:24-"My tongue also shall talk (hagah) of thy righteousness all the day long:..."
Psalm 55:17-"Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray (siyach), and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice."
Psalm 77:6-"I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune (siyach) with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search."
Psalm 119:48-"My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate (siyach) in thy statutes."
Proverbs 6:20-22-"20-My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 21-Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about they neck. 22-When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk (siyach) with thee."
What does all of that mean for you and me?
In Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, Timothy Keller says this:
"Paul said we should 'pray without ceasing' (1 Thessalonians 5:17), meaning that we should, if possible, do everything all day with conscious reference to God (1 Corinthians 10:31). There should be background music of thankfulness and joy behind every incident in our day, audible only to us (Colossians 3:16-17). This kind of spontaneous and constant prayer during the day should be a habit of the heart. We will never develop it, however, unless we take up the discipline of regular, daily prayer."
It is my personal opinion that we can never attain the "pray without ceasing" status unless we first institute regular set times of prayer as markers in the day and increase those times until we are able to walk in a different realm, a different sphere of constant awareness and connection with His presence.
The message of the Scriptures regarding WHEN? is quite simple. Reading of the Word, meditation, and prayer cannot be relegated to a specific prayer time each day. It cannot be assigned to a specific event or position or only when we are alone and everything is quiet. It cannot be slotted. It should consume our thought process, our prayer, our study, our work--all of us.
But that state of "without ceasing" cannot be attained unless first we have trained our spirits, souls, and bodies to enter His presence on a regular basis throughout the day.
Probably the foremost thought on your mind at this moment is, "How can I meditate on Him at all times? I must work. I must be able to concentrate on my responsibilities. I must live life and it requires my brain to function in many different ways." Absolutely! Rest in the fact that He knows how you must live. After all, he came and lived, also. He understands our need to function in this life.
The problem comes with what we consider more important than our time with Him.
The problem arises when we think our earthly, physical duties are higher on the priority scale than making sure we are "hiding the Word in our heart."
The problem glares when we think the business of our life is more important than the business of His life.
When you strip away all the junk, the distilled essence of why we cannot manage to spend daily time in prayer and meditation is that we have made a choice to do something else.
It all comes down to choices.
I know you are busy. I understand busy. I understand demands. I understand children and jobs and responsibilities.
I also understand a dry and thirsty soul. I understand eternal, Divine words echoing across time and centuries and societies and the lives of people just like you and me. I understand the call that is sometimes heard and many times drowned out by all the noise, "Choose ye this day...
It all comes down to choices.
In Mere Christianity, C S Lewis said this: "Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other."
Becoming one who "prays without ceasing," or one who "meditates day and night" means making a conscious choice to become so.
It does not happen because you desire it.
It does not happen because you wish it to be so.
It does not happen because you reach a stage of life where you have time to devote to becoming that kind of person.
It happens because you choose every single day for it to happen.
Although Day 5 is HOW?, I am challenging you to take a baby step from now until Day 5. Just test the waters a little bit. Just get your feet wet. Just make a small step and commit to it for four days only and see what happens:
- Read Joshua 1:8-"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate (hagah) therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."
- On a note card or on your phone or in a place where you can have it with you, write this scripture.
- Set an alarm on your phone or however works best for you for 8 am, 2 pm, and 8 pm. If those times do not work for you, get something that is as close to those times as possible.
- When the alarm on your phone goes off, read Joshua 1:8. Then read it again as a prayer. Then read it a third time as a promise.
- At the end of the day, you will have read and meditated on this verse 9 times.
Watch what happens in your spirit and in your prayer time each day as a result of this. You will be astounded at the difference you will begin to feel in your soul.
Don't make an excuse why you cannot do this. Make it happen. Three times each day, three times each. It's just four days, then you can go back to what you were doing before. :-)
It all comes down to choices.