Everyone who gets annoyed when drivers fail to halt their vehicles completely at a “STOP” sign, please raise your hands. Just as I thought. Nobody likes it when people don’t bring their cars to a complete stop. It’s annoying. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s dangerous. It’s ILLEGAL. “STOP” means that the car tires must cease revolving and that there be no forward, sideways, or rearward (when you’re facing uphill..) motion of your automobile. There are no “ifs” “ands” or “buts” about it. “STOP” signs are not a suggestion. They must be obeyed.
So, how’s your prayer life? Everyone who takes time during the day or evening to pray, both regularly and spontaneously, please raise your hands. Be honest with yourselves. I’m not judging or looking. I am guessing, however, that there were some folks who hesitated a bit. And maybe even one or two who admit that they pray regularly, but not every day.
That’s OK. If you hesitated before raising your hand, or maybe don’t have a regular prayer habit, there’s no reason to feel guilty, ashamed or embarrassed. That’s one of the things about being human: we’re not all the same, and we don’t always get things right the first time, or even after a long time.
Wherever you might have fallen on the hand-raising spectrum, whether it was faster than a lightning bolt, as slow as molasses or not quite all the way up, it’s all good. As long as you pray, even if it’s sporadic and hesitant, it’s OK.
Here’s something to think about, however, whatever your prayer style is. Like coming to a full stop at a “STOP” sign, prayer is not a suggestion, or for other people. Prayer is mandatory. It is the way we keep in touch with our Creator, our personal link to God whenever we need it. Praying daily, on a regular schedule, is an excellent discipline. We might not have much to say on a particular occasion, but if we’re in the habit of chatting with God daily or nightly, when we have something to say, or God needs to say something to us, the doors are open and we’re ready to go.
If you haven’t settled into a regular pattern of prayer, it’s never too late. Pray first thing when you get up and as the last thing you do before going to sleep. It’s a great way to start and finish your day. Praying when you wake up helps set the tone for your waking hours. Praying as the last thing you do before going to sleep is an excellent way to debrief from the events of the day and to leave your worries and concerns with God.
Prayer is the simplest, most effective tool we have to establish a healthy, open relationship with God. As such it is not an option or something we can take or leave. Prayer is mandatory, just like stopping at a “STOP” sign. And, just like obeying those “STOP” signs can save your life, praying regularly is a life-giving part of being a child of God.