Sunday, July 8, 2012

Texting God

I'm a Christian who struggles with prayer.

Don't get me wrong; it's not that I don't want to pray, or don't like to pray. I love the intimacy with God that is found in prayer, and I desperately want it in my life every day. But I often catch myself gliding through the motions of another busy day without having invested time in personal, private prayer.

It's the most discouraging thing, isn't it?

"Oh, what peace we often forfeit; Oh, what needless pain we bear! All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."*

If that hymn has not brought tears to your eyes at some point in your walk with God, I don't know what else could.

I know I'm not the first to struggle with this, and I know it ultimately comes down to making prayer a priority. Those who pray consistently have trained their minds and hearts for this discipline, in ways that I have not.

To combat the usual issues with difficulty concentrating, falling asleep, and losing track of people and concerns I wanted to pray about, I've tried many things, from finding a specific spot for prayer, to praying out loud, to writing down prayers in a journal. Any and all of these have worked for me when I made prayer a priority, and have worked less well when I didn't.

But I have a new strategy I am really enjoying, and I'd like to share it:  Texting God.

I've created a prayer blog (on Blogger), and set it up to where I'm the only person who can access it. It's only for me. Blogger also has a free smartphone app, which I installed on my phone.

I treat this blog just like you would a prayer journal, except it's accessible to me through my phone, just as I would text anyone during the day. For lengthier posts, I can access the blog on my laptop, or for shorter ones in the middle of the day, I just open the Blogger app on my phone, and it's thumbs away! (I just keyed in a short prayer while sitting in a drive-through line about an hour ago.)

The most rewarding part of this process is going back later and reading earlier posts. It's nice to be reminded of where I have been, and what was on my mind to bring to God at different times.

I'm not saying spiritual disciplines should be morphed into a smartphone-ready format, but it has been rewarding to me to weave prayer into my everyday use of a vital tool that never seems to leave my hand.

Texting God is not a cure-all. It will not create a prayer life where there isn't one. But it may be a way for you to "slip away to the wilderness and pray", even in the midst of the demands of a busy day, like Jesus was known for doing. (Luke 5:16)

May we always ask, like Jesus' disciples:  "Lord, teach us to pray"!

*"What a Friend We Have in Jesus (Joseph Scriven, 1855)

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