Getting Back Into the Groove
By Steve Hearts
There’s no doubt that prayer is a fundamental pillar of Christian living. I regret to say, though, that I have allowed it to be pushed to the back burner, being the kind of person who loves to “do my part.” Although it is important that I do all I can, I easily tend to do things more in my own strength and in the arm of the flesh, instead of in the power of prayer and of the Spirit.
Getting things done and seeing accomplishment is always a source of satisfaction for me. But I recently came to feel overwhelmed and weighed down, as though I were carrying more than I should. This was manifested in several ways, such as my easily becoming irritable and annoyed at others, not to mention the emotional stress that was building up inside. I knew that if I didn’t stop and reevaluate the way I was going about things, I’d soon collapse under the weight that was slowly but surely crushing me. So the other night, before going to bed, I sat on the living-room couch, taking advantage of the quiet in the house. I poured out my heart to the Lord and asked Him why I felt this way.
His light soon shone inside me as I clearly saw how in my effort to get things done and continue climbing the ladder of accomplishment, I had pushed prayer aside so that it became more the exception than the rule. When I did come to the Lord, I felt guilty about having to bother Him, afraid He’d see it as a sign that I wasn’t “doing my part.” This attitude was nothing more than my foolish pride. It was no wonder I felt overwhelmed and weighed down.
It was evident that I’d let myself get far out of the prayer groove, and it was now time to get back in. The Lord clearly told me, “It’s not a matter of doing less in order to pray more. Rather, it’s one of incorporating more prayer into your labors.”
How right He was. If I would simply incorporate a greater amount of prayer into my efforts I’d be far happier and have more peace. This would no doubt improve my performance and my life in general.
He also showed me some useful adjustments I could make in the way I occupy my time off work in order to fill it with more prayer. For instance, during my daily thirty-minute ride on a stationary bike, I could be praying rather than listening to music. Of course, I’m not making an across-the-board statement that this is what everybody should do. For some people, praying and listening to music go hand in hand. For me, however, because I’m a musician, it’s hard for me to listen to music without analyzing the technical side of it. For this reason, I would be unable to give prayer its due focus and concentration.
When going to bed each night, I usually listen to either music or audio books, since background sound helps me fall asleep more easily. But the Lord told me, “Why don’t you pray instead? You could be praying or hearing from Me until you fall asleep.” Again, this is not an across-the-board statement. It’s simply what the Lord said would help me.
I knew these adjustments would take a bit of getting used to. But I was determined to improve my prayer life, so I readily agreed. When I rode my exercise bike the next day, my soul was lifted into God’s presence while I interceded on behalf of others for their needs. When I went to bed that night, it was at first hard to resist the temptation to listen to something. But with determination, I shut down my laptop, climbed into bed, and got down to business praying and hearing from the Lord.
I’d always been taught that prayer should be like breathing—something that gets done no matter what else I’m doing. Now I was relearning the art of applying that principle, and wondering how I could have gone on so long without consistent prayer. From then on, things only got better. My days were again full of joy, excitement, and anticipation as I started depositing my burdens daily at His feet. I also had the satisfaction of experiencing wonderful answers to my prayers for others.
I’m still making the adjustment from a sporadic prayer life to a consistent one. Although I occasionally run into pockets of resistance along the way as my mind protests, begging to go back to the old ways, I’m learning to follow God’s call to become more of a man of prayer. Though the changes and adjustments involved may not be easy at first, experiencing their results makes it worth it all. I’m getting back into the groove, and by God’s grace I never want to get out of it again.