Monday, July 19, 2010

Habitual Prayer

TEXT: Dan 6:10

“10 ¶ Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”

     Daniel was a man of prayer.  We see all through this book that it was a habit for him to pray.  He prayed toward Jerusalem at “the time of the evening oblation” ie toward a city that no longer existed, destroyed over half a century before by the Babylonians, at the time of a ritual that had not been kept in 70 years!  It must have seemed to him at times that all that was left of his home & way of life was in his prayers.  This kind of longing is felt by every Jew that weeps & prays at the Wailing Wall.  Prior to 1948, it was a feeling shared by every Jew that yearned for a homeland of their own.  How much of the reality of the situation actually sunk into Daniel's psyche we don't know.  What we do know is that through habitual prayer, he kept his identity alive.  How many of us, of our young, of those around us every day seem lost, without an identity to hold on to.  How much might prayer help them rediscover & retain who they really are.  This is more than the quaint sentiment, "The family that prays together, stays together."  Prayer must hold a personal dimension to be effective.  Proper prayer life means connecting one's deepest sense of identity, of who we are, with God's.  Prayer is not a wish list; it is not a memorized repeated incantation.

     Prayer is touching God & feeling Him touch back. Prayer is part of a relationship.  Thus, yes, it does take on ritualistic aspects.  There are married couples that, though their day may routinely see them separated for most of the time, they will, with ritualistic passion, have a cup of coffee together, every morning & talk.  The point of such an exercise is not the enjoyment of coffee, though they may with some frequency seek out different, more exotic blends, brew methods, etc.  The point is not actually the talk, though each will save a story or comment expressly for the morning get together.  The get together, the relationship, is the point. The element of good coffee and/or special comments heighten the experience.  But, even if the coffee is a bit off; even if the room is quiet, the experience of being together, the relationship, still makes the experience, the ritual, worth the effort for in this way, in this ritual, they form an identity as a married whole, not two people who happen to be married.  Such a ritual will develop only with dedication to making it a habit.  This is what prayer is.  It's a habitual engaging in the relationship.

     In a modern culture of one night stands, no fault divorce & abortion on demand, maybe we have lost the knack of forming relationships, but that is what Daniel had.  It is a fulfilling experience (or at least it should be) for its own sake.  This is what God wants; not repeated, mindless incantations; not just the odd moment now & then, always when we're in need.  He wants a relationship.  He wants to hear when your sad; he wants to hear when you're happy, ecstatic; even when you have nothing to say, maybe He does!  Make prayer a habit & God guarantees you'll have a relationship.  Be as faithful in your prayer life as Daniel & you will experience all the joy that relationship can bring in this life!

No comments:

Post a Comment