Spiritual Disciplines Series: Prayer as a Lifeline

August 3, 2020

Editor’s Note: Recently, our Study Together groups worked through Richard Foster’s book “Celebration of Discipline.” So many helpful conversations ensued that we thought we’d create a blog series on the topic and post articles the first week of each month. Enjoy!

I give you full permission to laugh out loud, but I don’t know how to swim! Not knowing how to swim is fine, of course, until you are drowning.

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines the word lifeline as “something regarded as indispensable for the protection of life,” or “a line (such as a rope) used for saving or preserving life.” Prayer is like that lifeline that saves and preserves our daily lives. There have been times in this voyage of life where I have needed God to throw in the lifeline to rescue me from drowning. Most often, however, spending time with Him in prayer has been the means by which He has sustained me. Scripture contains many verses about Jesus going away to pray. The words, “He slipped away,” “woke up early,” and, “stayed up late,” give me great hope. Often, I am confronted with my human inconsistencies in finding a regular time to quietly be with God. But with each new morning, I hear His invitation to come, to seek, to call, to ask.

“Come to me all who labor,” He says in Matthew 11:28. 

“Come, everyone who thirsts” (Isaiah 55:1). 

“Call upon me and come pray to me, seek me and find me” (Jeremiah 29:12-14). 

Who is this God who invites sinners like me to come to Him? He is our savior, who comes to seek us out when we may be hiding up in a tree, like Zaccheus, wanting more time with Him but hesitant to approach. He initiates the process. He is our defense, who amazingly stands up for us, when everyone picks up a stone to cast judgment. Instead of joining them, he shows us the path to true fellowship with Himself. He is our refuge and strength and asks us to draw near. So we go. And we enjoy His fellowship.  

Many times I feel a lack of knowing “how” to pray. One of the amazing gifts that God has granted us in this is praying through the Scriptures. Several months ago, as I felt I was drowning, God lovingly threw me a lifeline in the book of Psalms. To prevent excuses, I put a Bible upstairs by my bedside and read one Psalm right before I got into bed each night. God used those Psalms to give me words to pray when I had none. He helped me wrestle with Him, ask Him some hard questions, and pour out my soul to Him, using His revealed Word. 

Have you ever realized that when you are in a really tough situation, one that feels like drowning, you feel like help couldn’t come soon enough? Likewise, when we pray, we want answers soon. My experience of going to God regularly and praying the Scriptures has been that of hearing him often tell me to wait. This is not an empty waiting, but one where He reveals Himself to me through that time of prayer and reading. I often come away realizing that, while I will be glad to have my prayers answered, He is more lovely and powerful to me, and that is what my soul really needs. 

So take a few minutes and sing through this old hymn with me: 

“Can we find a Friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness, so take it to the Lord in prayer.”

Communing with the God who hears us is the strongest lifeline we’ll need on this voyage to our heavenly home. 

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