Tuesday in our church is prayer day. That doesn’t mean we pray all day, but it does mean that we set times aside throughout the day to pray. Personally I’m a morning prayer and join with a number of others at about 7:00 on some weeks. I say ‘about’ because this morning I slept in so didn’t make it until about 7:15.
Prayer for a Christian isn’t about sitting down and going through a ritual. It’s about a conversation between us and God. It’s about communing with God. As such I don’t just pray on Tuesday at 7:00, I pray at all sorts of times, most days.
I also try to dedicate times specifically to prayer during week. There is a catch-phrase for these times in Christian circles – “the quiet time”. When I first became a Christian (when I was 17) I soon got into the routine of ‘quiet times’. I’m not sure who suggested that they were a good idea but someone did and it worked – for a while. But over time they became stale and dry and definitely a ritual rather than a conversation. Rather than being a time of communing they became I time of guilt and regret. I soldiered on for a while, but eventually they became so dry that even the ritual fell away.
From time to time I would listen to preachers who would say that I should be making time for God. In a sense they were right, and I knew it, but I didn’t want to go back to the stale ritual. All those preachers managed to do was to build guilt. But God is much greater than any regret or guilt.
Over the last 12 months or so God has been showing me that I don’t need to feel any guilt and that the ritual of a ‘quiet time’ is as deadly as no ‘quiet time’ at all. What God wants is relationship and I am free to find that relationship in any way. The key message in this being ‘free’. There wasn’t a formula or a process; it was about relationship in freedom.
Since God has written that on my heart I don’t have ‘quiet times’; I have times of intimacy. I may be quiet, but I may not. What I don’t have it ritual; I am learning to find freedom. Since starting to move in freedom I have discovered that prayer is a blessing.