This morning, while on my way to work, I was practicing the wonderful spiritual discipline of conversational prayer. Although this has always seemed to me to be a very normal and natural activity, while talking with some other Christians over the years, most had absolutely no idea what I was talking about when I brought up the subject of conversational prayer. For those who may not have heard about this type of prayer, it is simply conversing with God throughout the course of the day.
For many Christians, prayer is a ritualized activity that is done before meals, as ‘saying grace,’ or the habit of saying a ‘bedtime prayer.’ These two prayer practices are often passed down to us from our parents, if we were raised in a traditional Christian home. For those who attend Church regularly, we also pray with others during the service, and possibly in additional group classes we may be attending on Sunday or even Wednesday evenings.
There is certainly nothing wrong with these prayer activities. In fact all of these times for prayer are indeed important. The problem however, is when these times for daily prayer essentially comprise the extent of our prayer life. This is to be compared with the Apostle Paul’s teaching that we should “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes. 5:16-18) Although the term ‘conversational prayer’ is not mentioned specially in the Bible, at least that I am aware of, if there is one thing we know about the Apostle Paul was that he was a very busy man! Obviously Paul was not stuck in one place his whole life and locked into a regimented routine of ritualistic prayer.
When we come to that place in our Christian walk of truly staying in continual communion with the Holy Spirit, He becomes the Person of the Holy Trinity ‘closet’ to us. The Holy Spirit guides, teaches, directs, reminds, discerns, forbids and many other activities we could easily relate to with regard to the role of a coach in athletics. For anyone who knows anything about boxing for instance, often a fighter will get himself in trouble during a boxing match in a particular round, and return to his corner confused and quite bewildered about what just happened over the course of the previous three minutes!
As he is seated in his chair, with one of his trainers giving him water, attending to cuts, and refreshing him, his Head Coach is telling him just what went wrong and exactly and specifically what he wants his fighter to do differently in the next round. Some fighters will listen attentively and do exactly what the coach told him in the following round, often doing much better. Others however, are so locked into themselves that their mind locks up and seizes like a frozen gear. These fighters have a ‘deer in the headlights’ look about them, as the Coach is trying desperately to give them directions. When they go into the next round, they simply do the same things over and over again that got them in trouble in the previous rounds, and the results are never good.
We Christians often do much the same thing in our daily struggles. If we are not in the habit of maintaining continual communion with the Holy Spirit, when we are experiencing tough struggles and challenges, we lock-up, retreat back into ourselves, and fail to communicate through spiritual communion. I have come to believe this is what is meant by “staying is step with The Holy Spirit.” (Gal. 5:24.) These two critically important spiritual disciplines of praying without ceasing and staying in step with The Holy Spirit are on my heart today. I encourage you to join me in these two practices, as we make a commitment to ourselves to “Listen to The Coach.”
Yours in Christ-