How everyday conversations with God lead to serenity and peace of mind.
Posted in , Jul 13, 2021
It’s only natural that we pray in difficult and troubled times. It feels like the right thing to do, that our prayers will make a difference and help us cope. The challenge most of us face is what theologian and author Eugene Peterson calls in his book, The Pastor: A Memoir, “the work of prayer.”
Peterson recalls early in his ministry seeking out speakers and books about the work of being a pastor. Someone had told him about a professor who was an expert in the field and had written many books. Peterson attended a seminar the professor was giving and afterwards purchased his books. Reading them, he could not find anything about the “work of prayer.” He was deeply disturbed that the author didn’t address this in the ministry and life of a pastor. Peterson had no use for the professor’s books and took them to a landfill.
Prayer is the most undervalued resource that we have as people of faith. It is often the last and least of things we do daily—unlike working, returning calls or doing chores around the house. There is nothing wrong in turning to God when you are in a desperate situation. But it is the “work of prayer” on a daily basis that empowers us to live and deepen our faith, to expand our relationship with God. When prayer becomes an integral part of daily life, that’s the “work of prayer.”
Yes, praying daily, even for a few minutes, does take work because it entails effort and intentionality. Prayer is work in the sense that it takes mental, emotional and physical energy and seeks an outcome—to seek help, draw closer to God and express gratitude.
There are so many things, people and activities competing for our time and attention, and they often give us immediate gratification. But our prayer life develops over time; we don’t often see quick results. Yet as we learn to sit quietly and be still, we discover serenity and comfort for our soul. We begin to appreciate and value the power of the moment and our conversations with God. The act of waiting and listening expands our perspective on things. It can fill our hearts with joy and our minds with peace.
The daily work of prayer is not for the faint. But when we do this work, God does a good work in us. We can face the rest of the day with all of its opportunities and challenges with hope, faith and strength.