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TITLE: Finding The Right Time To Pray
By Carla Feagans

This is for a Christian audience, mostly women, for a weekly newspaper that mostly includes 800 word articles. Right now I'm about 30 words over, and I know this needs tightening up, just not sure where or how.

The topic area is supposed to be Timing of Devotional Life or Ways to Enliven Your Prayer Life. I only have a couple days before the deadline to submit so any feedback would be MUCH appreciated - thanks. Honest, constructive feedback - even if it means tearing it all apart and reconstructing - would be very appreciated.

Please give feedback on the title well - I also considered Finding Time to Pray or just Time to Pray, other suggestions also appreciated.
Who can call themselves a good Christian and not have one hour a day to spend with their Lord? Itís a question Iíd heard from a number of people, so I thought, oh, I guess Iím a bad Christian since Iím not doing that. Iíll do better, Iíll make it a priority. I love my Lord, and Iím not going to let others or Him think I donít.

Since I am not a morning person, I thought in order to be a truly devout Christian, I needed to make the sacrifice to get up early each morning and spend that hour with God. And so each night Iíd set my alarm an hour earlier. ďLord,Ē Iíd pray, ďhelp me to get up early tomorrow. I want to spend this time with you.Ē Morning would come, and in my groggy, bleary-eyed state, Iíd grope for the snooze button, telling myself that 45 minutes was almost as good as an hour. Continuing to hit snooze each time the alarm interrupted my sleep, Iíd decide Iíd start with less time today and increase it tomorrow. Or maybe Iíd just start tomorrow. God will understand. He knows how much I do each day and how little sleep Iíve been getting lately. He knows I may even be getting sick. I need to make sure I get enough sleep so I donít compromise my immune system. Iíll start tomorrow. Or better yet, Monday, after Iíve had a chance to catch up on sleep and can really start fresh.

Some mornings I did get up. My time with God was precious, and it was a great way to start the day. After several mornings in a row, however, I was exhausted. Iíll just sleep in today, Iíd think, and get up early again tomorrow. But tomorrow would stretch into a week, then a month.

I beat myself up mentally and told myself how rotten I was. How pathetic am I if I canít even get up consistently for that all-important hour with God? I tried starting with 15 minute increments instead of a whole hour, or praying during my morning workout or shower as part of that hour. I tried asking others to help hold me accountable. But every time, even if Iíd do well for several days, eventually sleep would get the better of me and I would fail once again.

I decided maybe it didnít matter if the hour was spent first thing in the morning. I tried for an hour each evening instead. That didnít really work, between cooking and cleaning up from dinner and a dayís worth of messes, helping with homework, getting kids ready for bed and preparing things for the next day. The hour would often slip away unnoticed, or Iíd remember it briefly as I fell into bed and drifted off to sleep.

A few months ago, a friend called to tell me she was coming into town to visit. We hadnít seen each other since Iíd had kids, so we were used to spending hours together just hanging out and talking. We planned a day to spend together that would work with both our schedules. I arranged for a babysitter for the kids for part of the time, and my husband planned on watching them that evening. When the day came, my sitter ended up canceling at the last minute, and my friend had to leave earlier than she originally had planned. We never got to spend even a moment together without kids, chaos, and interruptions. As I expressed my dismay at not being able to spend focused, one-on-one time with her, without all the distractions of my day, she assured me it was fine and she was just glad sheíd gotten to see me at all. ďItís not about how you spend the time, just that you do it,Ē she said. ďI still got to see you, and see what your life is like for you now. Itís actually better this way because I have a real sense of who you are as a mom.Ē

And thatís when it hit me. God doesnít care so much about how we spend the time, just that we do it. He just wants to know us, and for us to know Him, in our lives today, not some time in the future when we achieve that ďperfectĒ schedule (which will never really happen anyway). Just as Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are to ďpray continuallyĒ. God wants us to turn to Him in each and every moment, to give it all up to Him and spend time with Him, as a companion, friend, counselor, and confidante. He wants us to invite Him into every aspect of our daily lives, not just one pre-scheduled hour a day. Our prayers should become as natural and consistent as breathing.

Itís not about finding the right time to pray, itís about praying all the time.
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