While I was meeting with friend the other day, we talked about prayer. She mentioned that she had set alarms on her cell phone to go off throughout the day—reminding her to pray. What a good idea, I thought! So, I stole it from her—the idea, not the phone. That would be wrong.
Anyway, I decided to set my alarms to ring at 8 am, 12:01 pm ( I never know if noon is a.m. or p.m., so I set it to 12:01 pm to avoid waking myself at midnight), and 4 pm.
For the first few days of this experiment, I dutifully deferred to my little alarm, got down by the side of my bed, and prayed for people, situations, wisdom—whatever came into my mind. I prayed not long nor eloquently, but I humbled myself as I got down on my knees for this necessary discipline. I felt good about this habit I was developing, and I did find myself focusing on God more and more.
Enter week two. After finding satisfaction in my developing intercession, Satan crept up on me. When the first alarm rang, I would wait a few minutes more—continuing what I was doing—and then, because I felt guilty—not because I wanted to meet with my Lord—I would kneel and pray. Second alarm—too distracting—and since I was too busy to stop my life for a moment and look into the face of God, I turned it off and shot off a little prayer in my head. Mission accomplished, I concluded. Alarm three, week two. “Oh come on! I really don’t have time for this!”, I say under my breath, and off goes the 4 o’clock alarm—not just off for the day—deleted from the alarm schedule. Now, I figure, I just have two alarms to bother me. I can deal with that.
What has happened to my devotion? How did I go from pious and humble one week to disgusted and disgruntled the next? What kind of heathen am I anyway?
Here’s where I went wrong: At the start of my little prayer experiment, I was on God’s schedule, God’s timing, looking to God for direction. The first week, I wanted to join God in His work.
The second week, I let Satan convince me that the experiment wasn’t worth doing—that it was taking up too much of MY time. I was on MY schedule, looking to MY calendar for direction and wishing that God would join me in MY work.
See the difference? The first week I was God-centered. The second week, I was self-centered. And self-centeredness should always set off our spiritual alarms and make us learn to focus on our Creator.
Today I reset my alarms—all of them—and I am stopping to pray—not long nor eloquently, but faithfully and obediently—because I think this is what God wants for me right now.
Ask me about it next time you see me…but don’t ask me at midnight, ‘cause then I’ll be sleeping!
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.