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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Prayer/Life

As many of you know, a primary purpose for our trip to Bosnia was to pray for the city of Sarajevo, the people, and the church. This happened in many different ways: prayer walks through neighborhoods, team gatherings at Izvor or our lodgings, and even praying with the local church at their weekly prayer meetings.

One encouraging aspect of all this praying is that prayer became a regular part of life while we were there. Our team was so comfortable and accustomed to praying with one another that any time and any circumstance could become reason for prayer. For example, on Friday night, we were riding the tram back to our lodging after working at Izvor to prepare for the open house. The tram at that hour of day was filled with 20-somethings who were all dressed up and on their way to the clubs and coffee houses. As we stepped off the train, I found myself thinking about how unreached this group is in Sarajevo. They are hungry for something, and desperately seeking life in all the wrong places. A few of us were walking together, and so I simply started praying for these young adults and asking God to fill them with hope and love. When I finished, a few others in our group who were walking ahead of us turned around and said, "we just prayed the same thing!" This was a common occurrence- what we saw and experienced got translated into prayer as it was happening.

If I could bring anything back to my day to day living in the States, it would be this dynamic. How often do I get caught up in my routines and my schedule and forget to pray? More often than I'd like to admit. With our prayer focus in Sarajevo, I began to understand what it meant to "pray without ceasing." When you pray often enough, your heart starts turning to prayer without your conscious brain even putting thought to it.

I want my heart to be so connected to the Father that I act this way all the time. I want to see the line between my normal life and my prayer life begin to blur until it's just prayer/life together. In Sarajevo, we developed the sense that we were walking through each day with Christ. Could it not be the same here? I believe it could be, but I know it takes a focus and a determination to return regularly to Father. But I am encouraged to think that if I will do this often enough, prayer can and will become second nature. Prayer will become like breathing in and breathing out.

May you walk with Jesus through this day and find your journey filled with prayer-

Peace,
Nick

1 comment:

Melanee said...

I like to call this "Becoming a Living Prayer." In other words, instead of praying in stops and spurts, prayer becomes such a part of the fabric of our thoughts and our righteous desires for the welfare of others, that our very presence becomes a prayer in behalf of our brothers and sisters on this earth.

The last few months, I've been thinking about the commandment to pray without ceasing, and how it is that I can accomplish such a thing. And then I had this a-ha. Let's see if I can explain this.

I've been practicing being in the present moment more often and being more mindful in everything I do. Like when I sit down to eat, for example, instead of just saying a prayer of gratitude, which I always do, I pause, and look at the people around the table in acknowledgement, and take a moment to hold the plate or bowl in my hand and look at my food, and perhaps even name the items on my plate.

This exercise immediately brings a sense of deep gratitude for the people in my life, for the food I have, and a compassion for that which I have that others in the world do not.

This mindfulness, this being aware in the present moment, brings immediate swells of gratitude. And this overflowing gratitude must be put somewhere, and so where does it go? It goes to the Father in a state of prayer. And so I've been thinking about how slowing down and being present leads to gratitude, which leads to an open-hearted prayer. And this is how we can pray without ceasing.

Thanks for reminding me.