The other morning, I was working on my lesson for this week’s Bible study and realized that I didn’t feel well. My stomach hurt, my breath was shallow and my heart was beating harder than usual. A few thoughts popped into my head simultaneously and this post was instantly born. Some of the thoughts had to do with why I could be feeling the way I was. One thought in particular was this: There are two types of prayer in my life and I need both.
Constant Prayer: This is that running dialogue I have with God throughout the day. I think this is what Paul was talking about when he told the people in Thessalonica to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). It’s the prayer of thanksgiving when something makes me smile. It’s the prayer for strength and ability when I have to perform some task on my own because there’s no one around to help me (yes, I ask God to help me get jars open…). It’s the prayer asking for clarity of thought as I plan out my errands for the day so that I don’t forget anything and I don’t waste time (and gas). It’s the prayer for a friend in response to a Facebook update about how her day is going. It’s the prayer of forgiveness for a “little” sin that I’ve caught myself committing. You get the idea…
Dedicated Prayer: This is the time I take to stop everything I’m doing and spend time at my Father’s feet. This is the type of prayer Jesus demonstrated whenever He went off by Himself to talk to His Father. Sometimes I close my eyes. Sometimes I kneel. Sometimes I’m flat on my face on the floor. This type of prayer takes time. This type of prayer requires me to be still and to listen. This type of prayer involves self-examination, repentance, purposeful worship, serious petition for myself and for others. This is my “hard-core” prayer.
As I sat contemplating my aching stomach and racing heart, I realized that I’ve been doing a lot of the first type of prayer, but not a lot of the second. Yes, I’d been praying everyday and enjoying God’s company, but I hadn’t spent serious, dedicated time really talking with Him. I had been texting God, but hadn’t had coffee with Him in a while.
I’m not saying one kind of prayer is better than the other. I believe we need both. And I believe God wants both. He wants us to be in constant contact with Him. And He wants us to take the time to sit still in His presence. When we do one or the other, we are unbalanced. When we do both, we have a fuller relationship with the God who loves nothing more than to spend time with His kids.
Do you tend toward constant prayer or dedicated prayer? Is there another type that you’ve recognized in your life?