“True, whole prayer  — is nothing but love,” writes St. Augustine. 

It’s a tender question: Is the only reason we don’t truly pray, is because we don’t truly love?  

If one’s not praying regularly, is it only because something else is regularly loved more than God? 

The only reason we fail to pray, is because we’ve made an idol out of self. The only thing that prevents me from praying more — is me.” 

I don’t know where I was when the conviction struck me so hard it stung for days: The only reason we fail to pray, is because we’ve made an idol out of self. The only thing that prevents me from praying more — is me

Look in the mirror, in my calendar, in my own heart and confess, I’ve had to painfully face: It’s my own inflated sense of self-importance, the elevation of my plans, my work, of my agenda, that keeps me from prayer-communion. That’s called idol worship. It’s a striking thing of deep conviction to realize: I don’t pray enough because I’m practicing idol worship.

But what else is it when I too often have something else that comes first, or one more thing to do, or anything else that’s more distracting, appealing, satisfying instead of stopping my work to still my heart and speak words back to the very Word from whence I came?

Resource: Wooden prayer hands from The Keeping Company
Resource: Wooden prayer hands from The Keeping Company
Resource: Wooden prayer hands from The Keeping Company

My prayer life reflects my theology — or my idolatry.

The truth I came to sit with is: My prayer life reflects my theology — or my idolatry.

Unless we make time to genuinely pray — our other priorities betray what we genuinely think of Jesus.  The extent of prayer in one’s life is a direct function of whether something else has been set up as more important than God.

I began to whisper it gently to my soul: Do not work so hard for Christ, that you make no time to pray to Christ. He is the lifeblood of all work, all joy, all hope, all being, all communion.

I began to slowly turn and learn: When I choose to still in prayer is when I know that He’s God… and I am not. 

When I bow, idols topple.

“When I choose to still in prayer is when I know that He’s God… and I am not.”

When we, as a family, began to embrace a daily rhythm of prayer, by gathering in a circle in our kitchen as the sun came up, and bowing our heads in prayer first thing, before any of us did anything else. The house of our Lord is a house of prayer — and we realize that prayer is the only way we can keep ours standing. Each morning, we pray honestly, vulnerably, we pray through tears, we pray His Word, we pray each one of us around the circle, we pray first thing, we pray our hearts to the One who gave us a new heart. This is what we began to do: We returned to our first love. 

We discovered: Prayer is not what we do before we begin our work. Prayer is our life’s work. 

Prayer becomes what we live when we want to get hold of God, not just get a hold of what we want. And real prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind, but about finding God’s heart, and letting His heart change our minds.

Is this why God urges us to pray without ceasing? We need to pray without ceasing — because it’s the only way to live in communion. Without prayer, how can our life and His will have anything in common? Without prayer — we have no fellowship, no relationship, no worship. 

“Real prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind, but about finding God’s heart, and letting His heart change our minds.”

But when we choose to enter a life of prayer, He enters into our thoughts, takes captive every thought because we are most captivated with Him, Him having first place in our hearts and hours and priorities —  and the conversation never ends, and we have our heart’s real desire — communion with Christ.

“I know of no better thermometer to your spiritual temperature than this: the measure of the intensity of your prayer,” writes Charles Spurgeon. 

And the relief is? None of us pray alone. 

Though you think no one is praying with you, the Ultimate One is praying for you.

The One who breathes stars breathes prayers for you, the One whose words spoke the world into being uses priceless words over your being, the One who made time, lives beyond time, controls all of time, uses all of His time to pray for you, because you are priceless to Him.

Jesus is praying right now that the Spirit comforts you, strengthens you, anoints you with fresh oil of brave joy. Jesus is seeing us through, carrying us through, praying us through. And when we’re struggling to pray, it’s Jesus Himself Who prays for all we’re struggling with. There are arms that won’t let you go, there are plans that won’t abandon you, there are prayers that won’t fail you.

Jesus won’t get off His knees until you are in His arms.

Nothing makes you more fiercely brave than knowing Jesus is fiercely praying for you.

Hard times don’t need to understand what God’s doing — like they need to know God’s standing with us, that He’s kneeling in prayer for us at all times.

“Hard times don’t need to understand what God’s doing — like they need to know God’s standing with us, that He’s kneeling in prayer for us at all times.”

The Word-formed, Scriptural prayers of Jodie Berdnt have led me into our Abba Father’s hearts on some of my very hardest days. When my spirit didn’t know how to find words, the pages of Jodie’s prayer books find the Word itself, giving His own words to us, that we may pray them back to the Word Himself.

Jodie’s become a prayer companion for me, the gripping, Word-saturated pages of her prayer books reaching over and gripping my hand and holding me like a lifeline, tied to the heart of God. Books from Jodie’s series of Praying Scripture has become the gift I give for all occasions — because there is no greater gift than praying on all occasions, without ceasing. 

And there is nothing we need more than to learn how to become a prayer warrior— instead of a panicked worrier. Worry is just the facade of taking action — when prayer really is.

When I think how prayer is always our most real work, our most meaningful act, I remember again the story of Abba Paul, that desert monk who wove baskets and prayers. And while other monks lived close enough to cities to sell their handiwork in the markets, Abba Paul lived such a distance that the cost of transportation would exceed any profits from selling the baskets.

Nonetheless, each day he collected palm fronds and worked as faithfully as if basket making were his primary means of support. And come the end of the year, when his cave overflowed with long months of toil, he took torch to the work of his hands and the flames devoured and rose higher and cackled long into the night. Then, come morning, the heat died away, satiated. And Abba Paul stood in the long quiet and the wind blew away the ashes of all his work.

“Prayer is not what we do before we work, nor is prayer what we do instead of our work. Prayer is our life’s work.”

It is not the products of our days that will matter in the end, but the prayers of our days. Prayer is not what we do before we work, nor is prayer what we do instead of our work. Prayer is our life’s work.

Because by and large the work of our hands, the to-lists, the plotting across planners, while all needful acts of service, these acts will become ash in wind. “[O]n the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames”  (1 Cor. 3:13-15).

What survives fire? Our places of work won’t. Neither will the actual work of our hands. Abba Paul’s baskets didn’t. But what  was wove into the baskets did — the prayers. Ora et Labora — work and pray — but what is everything: weave prayers through all the work. 

The prayers we weave into the matching of socks, the stirring of oatmeal, the washing of floors, the coming and going and all the moments of our work, these  survive fire.

“Prayer is our coming home.” 

Turn these pages, and return to your first love —  for prayer is nothing but love for Love Himself.  

We were loved to life by the Word, by Him kneeling close and kissing us to life with His warm breath, and when our words return to Him in prayer, we are returning home. 

Prayer is our coming home. 

We become whole — when our breath becomes prayer.

These carefully handcrafted wooden hands from The Keeping Company are a one of a kind way to display reminders of words of hope, or reminders for prayer. We hope these wooden hands provide a daily reminder of Christ’s encouragement and the power of prayer when displayed on a desk, bookshelf, or bedside table.

 

Taking you on a 31-day journey rooted in Christ’s words in John 15, Praying the Scriptures for Your Life will help you find guidance and peace as you pray through life’s trickiest issues, from relationships to finances to what to do with the pain of unanswered prayer. Discover how Scripture can be experienced, not just read! 

In one of His last conversations with His disciples, Jesus urged His followers to “remain” in Him. But what does it mean to remain in Christ in our daily lives? In Praying the Scriptures for Your Lifepopular Bible teacher Jodie Berndt invites you to experience deeper intimacy with Christ as you allow his words from John 15 to transform your perspective as well as your prayers. 

Praying the Scriptures for Your Life is the latest addition to the bestselling Praying the Scriptures series. With short, easy-to-read chapters, the book invites you to read, reflect, and respond as you pray the Scriptures over every area of your life. Discover the peace that comes from abiding in Christ as you sink deep into his Word.