Out with the old, in with the new
Updated: Oct 23, 2019
For many of us who call ourselves Christians or followers of Jesus Christ, prayer is an afterthought. By that, I mean several different things:
Prayer isn't our first thought whenever we have a need or problem. We automatically try to figure things out on our own first; and when all our attempts don't work, then we turn to God in prayer out of desperation.
Prayer is not our regular habit. We haven't learned to depend on God on a daily basis.
Prayer is not like the air we breathe, our necessary lifeline; it is more like an unnecessary chore or errand that would be nice to get around to sometime, but if we forget—for long periods of time—it's not really a big deal. It won't affect our lives very much one way or the other.
But prayerless living is living a lie. It is living in blindness, and not walking in the truth. At its core, prayer is the affirmation of reality:
We are more than just physical beings living in a physical world. We are also spiritual beings living in a spiritual world.
There is a God who created us, who is intimately involved in our lives, and before whom we will one day give an account.
We are dependent upon God whether we realize it or not.
In our born-into sinful state, prayerlessness is natural. That is the nature of sin: independence from God, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency. But becoming a Christian involves the opening of our spiritual eyes to see and understand that we are not self-sufficient and that we need God. Yet, even after acknowledging our need for God, we often find ourselves still operating in that natural mode, not fully living in the light, the truth, of our continual, moment-by-moment need of Him.
How do we begin to change that? How do we make prayer a top priority in our lives? How does it become the spiritual air we breathe to keep us alive? We have to establish new habits. Old habits, like prayerlessness, die hard because they are—well, habits.
Habits are the way we act without thinking about it. They are the well-worn pathways of thought and practice that are second nature to us. They are just what we do. But habits can also be developed. New habits can replace old ones. New paths can be hewn out of the wilderness of our lives. By continual use, those new routes become the beaten-down paths that we have now established as our new ways of living, our new mode of operation, our habitual practice.
Why do we desire to start a new habit? Because we don't like the old one. We've seen the old one doesn't work, or we've come to realize that the old one is based on a lie and is not good for us. But the establishment of a new habit requires a lot of intentionality for the primary reason that it is replacing an old habit. Habits are ingrained; habits are the norm. So we are not just learning to make something the new normal, but we are also having to untrench the entrenched old way of doing things.
How do we do that? It starts with acknowledging that our old way of doing things is wrong: Repentance. Let us repent of prayerlessness, of self-dependence. Would you make it your prayer this week that God would begin to do the miracle of truth in your life and make you truly God-dependent? Would you pray everyday that God would make you a person of prayer?