But how do we pray continually? Do we need a strategy, agenda or date book, or does our time with God occur more organically? I think both.
I can compare my walk with God with my relationship with my wife. No, I am not a god to my wife, although she is certainly an angel! As a couple serving in ministry, we attend many events together with a common set of expectations. We enjoy sharing with others at weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, retirement ceremonies, and community celebrations. Although Jane and I are surrounded by crowds of people, we are still able to talk quietly to one another, and in fact enjoy processing what is going on around us in conversation. After many years of attending important gatherings, we are seldom surprised by order or agenda. However, our familiarity with our setting doesn’t diminish our opportunity to enjoy it as husband and wife.
On the other end of the spectrum are our walks on a beach boardwalk near our home. I love to “amble” on the boardwalk, drifting in and out of shops as we go. We both know we aren’t going to buy anything, with the exception of some cherry sours at our favorite candy store. It doesn’t matter. We love life without structure, and conversation free of protocol and cordiality.
In the same way, my prayers to God are often highly structured. In fact, as a preacher I voice at least one public prayer a week and am additionally called on to pray before meals and meetings. I believe these prayers have great value and I take inviting others into the presence of God with me very seriously. But I also yearn for my private time with God. And sometimes I ache to escape the cares of the world and pour my heart out to my Rock and Salvation. Therefore, when I consider where I should pray, as well as Paul’s exhortation to pray continually, I cannot help but think in terms of a relationship that weaves naturally through my entire existence. At any point along the journey I might converse with God in a specific way, but my prayer is more of a continuum than an interruption.