Little children are often taught to fold their hands and bow their heads before a meal. As the food lies steaming on the table, we make ourselves stop, pause, and give thanks for God’s provision in our lives.
Sometimes, in the mischief and naivete of the child, he or she will peek open an eyelid to make sure the food doesn’t get lost during prayer. Or perhaps one small hand will sneak a morsel into the mouth before the family says, “Amen.” The before-dinner prayer is a special part of mealtime, but often begrudged by the hungry bellies that wait.
It is easy to laugh at the simple mind of children and the difficulties they have waiting to eat in order to say a prayer. But how many times do we act the same way? How many blessings in our lives – like a hot meal – go unnoticed? Who regularly stops to bow their head in prayer before driving a functioning vehicle or enjoying a safe building? These gifts we take for granted, forgetting to remember the Giver in our thoughts and prayers.
Yet the apostle Paul told the church in Ephesus to rejoice always, to pray continually, and to constantly give thanks. And if we so regularly forget to pray over the blessings in our lives, how much more do we forget to pray over our needs?
Many times, we struggle through the day – encountering problems and needing wisdom but never bringing those things to the Lord in prayer. This poem gets at the heart of the matter – times when it seems too overwhelming to stop and pray are the very times when we need to utilize the gift of prayer the most.
I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day!
I had so much to accomplish that I didn’t take time to pray.
Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task.
“Why doesn’t God help me?” I wondered, He answered, “You didn’t ask!”
I tried to come into God’s presence; I used all my keys at the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided, “Why, child, you didn’t knock!”
I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak.
I wondered why God didn’t show me. He answered me, “But you didn’t seek.”
I woke up early this morning, and paused before entering the day.
I had so much to accomplish, that I had to take time to pray.
—Grace L. Naessens
In her new study Pray.!?, author Barbara Newman explores this Biblical calling to prayer in a new way. She offers encouragement on how and when to pray, and points us toward the One who always hears our prayers.
Best of all, as part of our TOGETHER series, the Pray.!? curriculum is offered in two formats. One is specifically tailored to a traditional Friendship group, while the other is suitable for any adult small group and includes multimedia tools that make the lessons accessible to everyone.
To learn more about Pray.!? and see if it’s right for your group, visit TOGETHERsmallgroups.org.
For a limited time, your adult small group may be able to try Pray.!? for free! Click here to see if you qualify.