“Be pleased, O God, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me!” (Psalm 70:1).
Is there another way prayer can be incorporated into a busy schedule? Too often we equate prayer with standing before an icon corner with a prayer book and reciting prayers. While this is certainly an aspect of keeping a prayer rule, there is more to it than that.
I often think of the many people in the Gospels who found the Lord’s favor with few words. The woman with the issue of blood approaches Jesus to heal her without saying a word. She touches the hem of His garment (Luke 8:43-44). The blind man Bartimaeus cries to Christ, “Have mercy on me Son of David.” Jesus draws near to him due to his persistence and asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus replies, “Master, let me receive my sight” (Mark 10:46-52).
So prayer is not about how many words one offers. It is having faith in Christ that He will respond to one’s plea. The one quality shared by Bartimaeus and the women with the issue of blood was their determination to persevere when all the circumstances surrounding them would have told them to give up. The women had been ailing for 12 years and been to all kinds of doctors — to no avail. The crowd ridicules Bartimaeus when he cries out to the Lord to have mercy on him. Yet that doesn’t stop him.
I started this reflection by quoting Psalm 70:1. It is a short verse that can be easily memorized and recited repeatedly throughout the day. There are other Psalm verses that one can look up and memorize as well. Of course, there is the well-known “Jesus Prayer” that can be said in its entirety or shortened. But for any prayer to be effective, it needs to be founded upon a thirst and hunger for our Lord.
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me continually, “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:1-3).
So for a family to be an icon of a little church at prayer, it needs to be founded on these words from Psalm 42. If we are not hungry for God and if we are not seeking Him, even when discouraged by others, then it doesn’t matter how long or short our prayers are, or whether they are offered before one’s icon corner, or whether one finds oneself on the run. So how do we cultivate a hunger for God in our family life and routines? Tune in next week — time to talk about fasting.