Is Prayer Important To Us?

Thank God for a safe and smooth two week trip to and from New Zealand. It was really great to spend time with family and see beautiful sights, but I will save all that for another entry some other day.

For now, I have very limited time as I must decide what to pack/ship and then actually pack/ship everything before the 27th. I just wanted to share a brief reflection from this morning.

In NZ I didn’t have too much free time to pray and read the Bible as much as I would’ve liked, and didn’t make as much time for it as I should’ve. So this morning (closer to this afternoon since I woke up around 12pm), after arriving home late last night/early this morning, thank God the first thing I decided to do was kneel down and pray. I set a timer on my watch for 25 minutes.

As I was praying, especially towards the beginning, I kept thinking about all the things I needed to do to prepare for this transition from school life to work life, starting with moving a subset of my junk across the country. I kept thinking about how I have to really make efficient use of my time and so maybe I should cut my prayer short a little bit.

This sort of tendency has been pretty typical in many of my “extended prayers” during my daily life; I pray in a rushed manner so I can get to the things I need to do afterwards, whether it be homework, a lab meeting, going to the gym, or just meeting with friends to hang out. In that sense my spiritual cultivation is like a check-list; once I do it, it’s done for the day.

But during this morning prayer, I began having random thoughts that lead to a startling observation. If the semester were still in session and some friends or family who I rarely see came to visit, I wouldn’t rush my time spent with them so I could focus on my course obligations (my NZ cousins were a good example of this haha). If I had to be somewhere, but all of a sudden something came up, e.g. filling out and mailing out a bill due really soon, I would take the time to put down my stuff and go through everything on the bill and mail it out. True, I may still be rushed, but since it concerns something important like money, I would still be quite thorough and attentive. Heck, if I had to be somewhere but all of a sudden I had to poo, I’m putting my stuff down to take a poo, and I will still thoroughly wipe until my butt is clean.

If something is really and truly important to us, we won’t rush it. We won’t do it half-heartedly. Even if there are other things we need to do, we will sit down and take the time to do whatever it is that is important to us. Then I inevitably found myself asking, “Is prayer important to me? Has it been important to me?”

Thank God, after I had this realization, I was able to focus much more in my prayer. I prayed for my NYTS group, my family, relying on God in everything like finding a place to live and purchasing a car according to His will, etc. My prayer was just more, sincere.

And then after some time I still found myself thinking, “Wow, when is this prayer going to end? 25 minutes is feeling quite long…” I took a sneak peak at my watch and to my shock it already was at 0. 25 minutes had already passed for some time, and I didn’t even hear my watch timer beeping when time was up. This never happens. Whenever my timer goes off during prayer, I immediately hear it and am aware that “it is time” to end the prayer. But this time, I was completely oblivious to my alarm. Completely oblivious to how much time had passed.

Thank God, when I checked the time, it read 1:01pm. I had prayed for about an hour and I had only planned to pray for 25 minutes. This is how daily prayer should be – maybe not always going “over time”, but never rushed or perfunctory or cursory. Always thoroughly and wholeheartedly, whether it’s 5 minutes, 25 minutes, or an hour (or more!). So let’s ask ourselves again – is prayer important to us?

Ok, not as brief as I expected, but I needed to get this down thoroughly so I could remember it.