Prayer For The Undisciplined – Tashinga Chanyau
I remember being 14 years old, at the time my family and I were still living in my country of birth, Zimbabwe. My Mum took me along to a Tuesday night prayer meeting in a tent. Up to this stage I had attended Church obediently because of my Mum but I had never thought of my faith as a personal relationship with God. As we arrived, I remember the first thing that struck me was how many cars were parked in this yard. I thought to myself “surely people have better things to do than come hang out in a tent at night”, I remember almost giving myself a pep talk about how long it would be and being very aware not to fall asleep.
Anyway, the meeting started, someone shared a thought, but it wasn’t just to fill the time it genuinely seemed like he believed what he was talking about and while I lacked the understanding to discern the point he was making in its entirety, my heart was captivated by his passion and zeal. Soon he had everyone standing and what followed was one of the most impactful experiences of my life. I saw people pacing and shouting, some were crying as they tried to put sentences together, others were speaking in tongues, which to me at the time sounded weird and confusing because it sounded nothing like my native language Shona. In my natural state of mind I felt uncomfortable and out of my depth but there was something within me that was resonating with what was happening. See, little did I know, that my spirit was coming alive to the reality of who God is through this experience. As the volume of prayer increased, I could feel and sense what I have come to know as the presence of God so tangibly. I remember thinking to myself as I left that tent meeting “that was crazy but I want to know and be passionate about God like the men and women in that tent”.
14 years later I have realised that it is easy to get inspired to pray in cooperate settings, and as good as those environments are, they are not enough to sustain a growing relationship with God. The reason why I have titled this blog post “Prayer for the Undisciplined” is because I, like most people, have found it hard to make prayer a consistent priority in my life. I know the importance of it and I deeply desire to be praying more, but there have been seasons where I have been comfortable with ‘Sunday Prayer’. In these seasons I have been very aware of my need to address the lack of prayer in my life, but let’s be honest, that is easier said than done.
I have sat in meetings where people have talked about how they have found a good rhythm to their prayer life, and instead of walking away inspired to do the same, I have walked away ashamed and defeated feeling like a terrible Christian. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father that doesn’t leave me there but always has a pathway for me to find my feet again. And the most powerful prayer I have learnt to pray when I feel distant, out of control or maybe just stuck in religious routine is this – “God I don’t feel like I’m doing well, would you help me”. Those aren’t always the exact words I use but I have learnt that the best way to pray is to pray! Not some eloquent planned out prayer, but a real authentic prayer that gives God access to my soul.
I have learnt that religion is routine void of heart revelation. Most people my age that I talk to hate the thought of religion and along with that we have also then despised routine because we mistake it for religion.
” Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35 NIV.
Mark 1:35 points out two things, that Jesus had a specific place and time for regular prayer, not religious etiquette. The truth is I have tried to build my prayer life on spontaneity but there is always something else that comes up and before I know it the day is done and I haven’t prayed. The amazing thing is that when I schedule my prayer time, I find that I actually have increased moments of spontaneous prayer in my day.
So, if this has been an area of struggle for you, I want you to know that there is hope. You are not a bad Christian, and if you do feel like a bad Christian, it’s time to stop thinking that way. You are on a journey of discovering this beautiful relationship with your heavenly father. My advice to you is to start by creating at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time with Him daily. Now remember you may forget, you may feel tired or you might just have a bad day and miss your scheduled time of prayer, don’t write yourself off but rather carry on from where you left off and be authentic about your emotions and your feelings before God. Why? Because there is a promise that the Apostle Paul lets us know about in the book of Philippians.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
South Youth Pastor