One of the things I loved most about the TV series Rev was how the character Rev (Adam Smallbone) kept praying to God. Often things were going badly for poor old Rev or he had made a mess of something and so the prayers were often for help or consolation or forgiveness.
No matter what happened, however, Rev’s prayers were always simple and honest.
And thinking about that reminds me that when our prayers are simple and honest we are at our closest to God. We don’t need a lot of fancy words or phrases. We don’t need a lot of politeness. We just need to tell it as it is and know God loves us and understands – even when we are feeling angry or despondent.
Keep it simple...
In the Bible Jesus warns his disciples about being over-complicated when they pray. And he gives them a simple prayer to pray - which we now call the Lord’s Prayer. Pete Greig in his book How to Pray, says that, in its original language, the Lord’s Prayer was only 31 words long and rhymed – presumably to make it easier to remember. What could be much more simple than that?
So when it comes to prayer - keep it simple. Keep it real. And then keep it up.
And it is, perhaps, that last thing that we find the most difficult of all. We all pray from time to time. But how can we get into a proper pattern of praying really regularly? How do we find the self-discipline?
Lots of Christians answer these questions by suggesting that we have a ‘daily quiet time with God.’ Just fifteen minutes a day – reading the Bible, listening to God and praying. Get up early, they say. Do it every day and it will soon be as easy as brushing your teeth.
But I’m not sure that’s true. And I know so many people – myself included – who really struggle to stick to a ‘daily quiet time with God.’
So what’s the solution?
Keep it social...
Well, I believe that the first step towards a solution is to make sure that you go to Church absolutely regularly every Sunday. This should be the first discipline when it comes to prayer. Because at Church on Sundays this is what you will do. You will pray.
Once you’ve got that cracked, you can move on to adding in a midweek service. Most churches have a half an hour Morning Prayer service or Mass every morning. Have a look around on the internet and you’ll find a church that has a service at 7am or 8am if you need to get to work afterwards. Or as late as 9.30am or 10am if you are dropping the children off to school and want to go after that.
So, if you do those two steps, you’ll have Sundays and, say, Thursdays sorted.
Then once they are both a good habit, you might try to fit in a Bible reading class or a Bible study group on, say. a Tuesday.
If you manage to do all that then you will then have a really fabulous prayer routine. And it should be much easier to keep up – as you won’t be doing it on your own, but with other people. Which is always not only a big help but also much more fun. And a chance to learn from and encourage others.
So keep it simple, keep it real, and keep it up – by keeping it social.