How the habit of prayer becomes a blessing
The great Christian author and apologist C. S. Lewis famously said, “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.”
I can say “Amen!” to that. I pray for those reasons. And more:
1) I need God.
Like many people, I am most often driven to prayer because I need something. A job. Healing. Money for car repairs. Those sorts of things. But the more I pray, the more apparent my real need becomes: I need God. He is my source, my strength, my healer, my helper.
2) It clears my head.
I can’t possibly count the number of times I have gone to prayer in confusion—my mind and heart all stressed and twisted and panicked—only to experience a wonderful release and peace by the time I finished praying. I know the truth of the verse, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3, KJV) because I’ve experienced it.
3) It starts my day right.
For many years I was too busy to pray in the morning. My days began with hurry and progressed in the same way. But at some point, morning prayer became not only a habit but also a blessing. It orders my day. It sets the tone. It gets me going in the right frame of mind and the right orientation of heart.
4) It ends my day right.
I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about the blessing Compline (evening prayers) has been to me. Suffice it to say here that prayer helps my mind review the day, download and offload all the day’s stress and struggles, downshift my brain’s mechanisms, and prepare for rest. At this point, I think I could more easily go to sleep without locking the doors or brushing my teeth than I could without having prayed.
5) It reminds me of a few important things.
Like who God is. Who I am. What matters most. Where I come from and where I am going.
6) Things go better when I pray.
I know God answers prayer because I see those answers on a daily basis. If for some reason I neglect prayer, I feel like I’m not firing on all cylinders, so to speak. Things go wrong. I go wrong. Perhaps most importantly, disappointments and detours that might shake or shatter me if I haven’t prayed more often turn into blips—or even blessings—when I have prayed.
7) I get better as I pray.
Seriously, I shudder to think of the man I would be if I subtracted all the praying I’ve done over the years. Prayer makes me a better man, because prayer brings God and all He is and means to me into motion in me and through me. I am nowhere near good enough or smart enough to go without prayer. Little by little, day by day, I become a more blessed, more joyful, more capable, more focused and more sensitive person than I was just a few days before.
I could go on. Seven reasons barely scratch the surface. I could easily list seven more, I think. So maybe I will, in a future post.