I’m not okay and I don’t have it all together. And that’s why I pray A LOT! And when I forget to pray first thing in the morning, there are a few, almost immediate lies, that bombard me. Oftentimes I don’t recognize them even though they show up all the time. Here are some of the things I deal with when I forget or skip out on prayer:
- Bad memories flood my brain like purple minions. Do you remember when the minions turned purple and starting destroying things? When I skip out on prayer in the morning, bad memories overwhelm me and I find myself frustrated or angry about things that happened 10 or 15 or even 20 years ago. There are a few bad memories, in particular, that show up the most. But sometimes I remember things that I haven’t thought of in years. When I don’t spend time in prayer, bad memories invade.
- Frustration with someone I love. Normally, the first people I get frustrated with is my wife or kids, and it’s usually over something silly. I find myself thinking about all of the little things that annoy me or drive my crazy. And I mean these are little, stupid things. Like, “I can’t believe she didn’t make the bed this morning. I always have to make the bed. Why am I the only person around here that makes the bed.” Or “Why is my son sick? Really? He had to throw up today? This is going to ruin our weekend.” I know it’s shallow, but when I don’t pray I get frustrated easily and lack compassion.
- Anxiousness about the future. When I don’t pray, I worry about anything and everything. I get stressed out. Sometimes it’s over minor things–like how we are going to pay for a repair to a vehicle in the future if something were to go wrong. Nothing has gone wrong. The car isn’t even making weird noises. But when I don’t pray, I start thinking about all of the things that could go wrong and stress about how to pay for them.
- Negative thoughts toward people who haven’t yet done what I want them to do. Recently I sent an email to a friend of mine asking for advice. He didn’t get back with me for a few days, and on one of those days I hadn’t prayed in the morning. So guess what? I got angry at him. I doubted that he was my friend. The poor guy is out of town on a business trip, and I get mad at him because he didn’t check his email, drop everything and craft a response.
Sometimes, I realize what’s going on. I realize that my thoughts haven’t been aligned with God’s thoughts in prayer. I know that stopping the negative onslaught of negativity is as simple as pausing in my day and spending time with God. Guess what I hear in my head after that realization?
“I don’t want to.”
Bad thoughts are literally destroying my day. It could be fixed with a simple prayer time. Yet I don’t want to? That’s when you know there’s an evil one who does all he can to distract us from God’s very real presence.
Here’s the point. Intentional Christians pray because they know that without prayer they can’t be intentional Christians. Prayer leads to joy, passion, a deep sense of God’s presence, direction, patience and love for our enemies. It leads us to a place that is the exact opposite of every situation I just described. So pray today, and tomorrow and the next day. And if you see me somewhere, remind me to pray too. Because without God’s help, we are all–and I mean ALL–in trouble!