Growing up, I always attributed being "constant in prayer" to the super-christian types. You know what I mean? I watched the Veggietales episode where it talked about St. Patrick praying 100 times a day. To my little kid self, it felt like a competition I could never win. ("He prayed a hundred times a day? I only prayed twice today...") I even went through periods of my life when I tried "praying without ceasing" just to see if I could do it.
The more I talk with God, the more I realize that this really isn't the point. This kind of constant turning to God in prayer does not stem from religious duty or personal effort. Rather, it comes from a deep inner love for God and a desire to grow closer to him.
Since coming home from Family Camp, I have been reading through the book "Crazy Love." (It is an AMAZING book by the way, if you haven't read it :) In the book, he was talking about how we are supposed to be in love with God. Think about it. If you were in love with someone, you would treasure every moment you got with them, block out time in your schedule to spend with that special someone, and enjoy talking with them for hours on end. This is how we should feel about God.
Now as soon as I start typing the words "supposed to" and "should," I know you may be feeling the same guilt I experienced when I ran into this concept. What if I don't feel that way about God? I know that I can't muster up my strength and will myself to love him more.
But then it continued. We, as humans, are not able to love God in the way he deserves to be loved. He is so far above us, so great and mighty, and our capacity for love is minuscule compared to his. This is where the true beauty of God's grace comes in. He not only loves us, but he can give us the power to love him back, in a way far greater than anything we can understand.
I came to the place in my quiet time that I confessed to God, "I don't love you like I should. In fact, I know that I cannot do so on my own strength. Would you fill me up with love for you, so strong that I cannot deny it?"
I have got to tell you, we serve an incredible God. When I took that step of faith, he heaped love on me tenfold. I can't tell you what a difference it makes in my relationship with him. I run to him, I find joy in his presence, and it is nothing like I have ever experienced before.
For example, there was one day when, at about four in the afternoon, I was really burnt out. Seriously. I was grumpy, frustrated, tired— the whole gamut. I went upstairs hoping to hop on the internet for a while or to lose myself in one of my new books, but God had a different plan. He said, "Come to me." So I did. I spent the next half hour or so reading his Word, praying, and simply being with God. When I was done, it was incredible to see the difference in my attitude and outlook on life. Coming into that time, I was self-absorbed, only worried about my needs and frustrations. Afterwards, I was joyful, and kept feeling led to do things for others, that I never would have thought of on my own.
You know how they say that you become like the people you hang out with? Well, I spent time with the Maker of the universe, and I could see myself becoming more like him.
It's amazing how the Father's love has changed my outlook on life. Instead of doing my Bible Studies out of duty, I can't wait for that time to bask in the presence of God and hear him speak to me. His love is overwhelming, and his grace covers me on a day to day basis. He has made it so that I can't do without him, in fact on some days I truly miss him. Now, I know that the Holy Spirit lives inside of me and that I can talk to God anytime. He is here with me always. Yet, there is a part of my soul where I long to see him face to face. I look forward to the day when at last I can sit in his throne room and sing his praises forever. More than that, I simply can't wait to see him face to face.
This is the first time in my life that the verse, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain," has been real to me. I get it now. I want to see Jesus's face, I want to be with him, but I know he has work for me here on earth, so I will stay here until the day he calls me.
His love has also totally changed my perspective on death and the second coming. Before, when I thought of these things, I was wrapped up in my selfish desires. "Oh, I want you to come back Jesus, but can you just wait until I ______." Now he has filled me with joy and expectation. If I were to die tonight, that would be awesome, because I would get to see Jesus. On the other hand, this knowledge also gives me a sense of urgency. If I die tonight, I know I will get to be in the presence of my Savior, but what about the people around me. What about my extend family, my co-workers, the children I teach? Where would they be? I am secure in Christ, but they are not. This leads to more prayer as I ask God what my place is in showing him to the world.
I could ramble far more about this topic, but let me close in this way. We serve an amazing God. He loves you in ways far greater than anything you could ever imagine. And if you simply ask him, he can give you a capacity to love him so deeply. I guarantee you, the more time you spend with God, the more in awe you will be of his love for us. Jesus wants to fulfill you with his love, and when you run to him, he will satisfy your soul. Don't waste another minute. Fall in love with your Savior.