Recently I read this question online:
Everyday I’m in conversation with God. I start in the morning. I spend 10-15 minutes reading his word. And then, he’s with me everyday, every hour. I talk to him like a friend… All. Day.
I feel like it’s a continuous prayer. But it’s not structured. It’s really a conversation. And maybe I’m crazy… But I believe. And that’s how I feel/see it.
I am active in my evangelical, bible based Christian church. I feel like understanding my faith will help those offering assistance.
What I’m concerned about is I don’t take enough time to pray! Targeted, “I sat down and said a prayer”, kinda praying.
Is this something I should work on?
If I’m having that conversation all day, should I also still be setting aside a time for structured prayer?
I’m beating myself up about it.
I will first point out that even Christ at times got away from everything else to intentionally pray, so I believe that is a great example to consider.
But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
Luke 5:16 NLT
Do you feel there are certain people, needs, topics, etc that you are missing out on discussing with God?
Structure is there to help us not miss remembering important things that we might forget otherwise. It is there so that we don’t miss heartfelt and genuine reflection, and intimate conversation with God about these important things.
We don’t want our prayer life to be so shallow/narcicistic that it is only about bringing God into the minutes of our own day — nor do we want It to be so structured that it is all the right words and topics, but nothing that delves deep into our heart to bring reflection, conviction, and change.
I like to remember that the example Jesus gave His disciples is a lot less about “me and my day” than about Him, others, and my role alongside Him:
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Jesus said, “This is how you should pray: “Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.”
Luke 11:1-4 NLT
Practically speaking, if you need a little help remembering things — I suggest that you check out the prayermate app on your phone. You can set up essentially flash cards for different high level topics/areas or specific needs/requests that you want to be intentional about — then whenever you have time to pray intentionally during the day, you can swipe through those cards to kick off each topic. Think of it as going into a meeting with a basic 5 point agenda so that you are intentional and purposeful about topics and direction – rather than following rote repetition.
Also, going deeper in the Word with a Bible Study that has you digging, pulling roots, seeking understanding, and strengthening your knowledge of the Word of God for several focused hours each week will build you up in ways that a morning devotional just cannot. That’s the practical/pragmatic advice that I can offer.
Spiritually speaking, if it is an area of conviction, decide to receive the discipline/correction from the Holy Spirit, and change your direction in order to bring you closer into intimacy with God and more in line with His will and purpose for your life.
If it is measuring yourself in comparison to others and comes from guilt or envy, still make changes — but make sure that it isn’t just a lure into dead religious activity/tradition/repition and away from alive heartfelt intimacy.
Either way, don’t waste time beating yourself up — just choose today to take one small step closer to God, and keep doing that. And when (not if, but when) you make another mistake (and you will) praise God all the more for the Blood of the Lamb and the redeemer we have in Christ Jesus, and take another step.
This narrow way is narrow not because there is such an exact checklist to live up to, but because the heart it takes to surrender newly, die daily, and humbly rely on Christ alone to see us through to the end. Amen.