This past summer I felt very discouraged to pray. Not unmotivated to pray, but discouraged. I knew in my head that God was listening to my prayers, but I did not know it in my heart. I felt this strange obligation for my prayers to be at least 30 minutes long or else they wouldn’t count. I chatted with a spiritual director about this and they led me through a listening exercise. At that moment I asked God what was going on, why have I been feeling this way? The Lord, as always, was kind and he responded so gently to me. He prompted this realization.
I had been thinking of prayer as a letter, the kind that takes days and days to arrive. When you send a letter of this caliber, you probably want it to be extensive. After all, it took a lot of effort for the letter to make it to its recipient. This is why I felt like any prayer that wasn't fancy or well worded or long enough wasn't being listened to. Rather than sending a letter worth reading, I felt like I was leaving God Post-It notes that he didn’t have time for.
As I came this realization, I turned to the truths of his very own word:
1 John 5:14 - We can have confidence that he hears us.
1 Peter 5:7 - He cares for all of my anxieties.
Romans:38-39 - Nothing can separate me from his love.
Matthew 28:20 - He is always with me, until the end of time.
Psalm 23:4 - I do not have to fear, he is with me, and he comforts me.
Ephesians 2:8 - I have been saved by grace, through faith, not by anything I can do or have done.
As I thought about these truths, my Father reminded me that I had been thinking of prayer from a human perspective, not from his perspective. When I pray, I am not sending a letter, or even a Post-It note. I am having a real time conversation with the God of the universe whose Spirit is in me and who has promised to be with me until the end of time. He gave me this picture:
Imagine going to a coffee shop with some friends to get some work done. You’re all working on your own thing, but you’re doing so together. Every once in a while you look up from your work and exchange a few words. You have short conversations as you work alongside each other.
Jesus reminded me that he is not far away. That I don’t have to leave Post-Its or write him a letter, but rather as I go about my day, I can stop what I am doing and have a few words with him. He is there right beside me, listening and responding to my thoughts. I do not want to minimize the importance and the delight it is to spend extended time with the Lord, but I want to remind you that there are no time minimums on prayer. You do not have to prove that you are worth being listened to. You have been made worthy by the blood of Christ that was spilled for you. As you go about your busy, fall days, feel free to stop and exchange just a couple of sentences with your Father. He is listening and he is so excited to spend time at life’s coffee shop with you.