I was reading an article in the NZ Herald last week about Sonny Bill Williams’ Muslim faith. Talking about how he fits the Islamic prayer-and-diet lifestyle into the training schedule of an All Black, he says:
“When I’m most happy is when I’m doing my prayers… How can you not spare 25 minutes of your day to give thanks? I look at where I came from and feel blessed.”
While we’re not praying to the same god, I was inspired and challenged by what Sonny Bill had to say about prayer. It reminds me so much of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
What emphatic wording – always, never stop, in all circumstances. Paul is challenging us here to make prayer and thankfulness part of the fabric of our everyday life. Not something we do occasionally, or when we need something, but something we do always.
This is the area of my faith which I want to develop the most. To be honest, I’m a slack pray-er and so often find myself falling back into well-worn habits of infrequent prayer. My focus over the coming months is going to be on breaking those habits – intentionally taking time out of my day to pray and give thanks.
To help with this, I started reading Tim Keller’s book on prayer recently (aptly titled Prayer). In the first chapter Tim writes:
In the second half of my adult life, I discovered prayer. I had to. In the fall of 1999, I taught a Bible study course on the Psalms. It became clear to me that I was barely scratching the surface of what the Bible commanded and promised regarding prayer… my own growing conviction that I just didn’t get prayer, led me into a search. I wanted a far better personal prayer life. I began to read widely and experiment in prayer.
I was heartened to read that I’m not alone and that a widely respected pastor struggled with prayer in the midst of his ministry (24 years after graduating from seminary, 10 years after starting Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan).
So, over the coming months, in the midst of the busy-ness of life, my challenge will be to dedicate more time to prayer. After all, to paraphrase Sonny Bill, how can I not spare time to give thanks and commune with my God?