A National Day of Prayer

29 April 2014


Submitted by Ron Jones, pastor, writer, and cycle instructor at the Great Bridge/Hickory Family YMCA

The Bible speaks of praying without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17) which is a daunting command. We are all so busy, aren't we? Alarms go off too early. Kids need us. Work wants more. Squeeze in a work out. Travel teams. Yard work. Whew. I need a nap just from thinking about all this stuff. By the time we get to church - if we get to church - and sit still, it is a Herculean effort to slow down and think about God, much less actually concentrate enough to pray. Maybe this is why Americans set aside a national day of prayer. We are an efficient, active people. Let's get our praying done in one shot. Right?

While it's great to have a day set aside to remind us to pray and to affirm the importance of prayer, it would be more effective and healthy if we did pray without ceasing all year long. Prayer is like doing a spiritual work out - we don't exercise our bodies and then put them away until the next cycle class or boot camp, we continually use our bodies. We have spiritual lives all the time too, not only when we use them more intensely. And like our physical bodies, we often don't notice how they are working, we just use them.

Praying without ceasing is not staying in some quiet place and uttering "holy" words to God. It is using our spiritual life to live well all the time. It is inviting God's voice into work, home, travel teams, and the gym. Couldn't we use that voice with parenting and marriage and school and work? The Christian story of the world is a God so intensely interested in human life that he would become one of us and live the way we live. If that is true, not only do we have a God who cares about every part of our lives - we also have a God who participated in every area of life. What a great asset to have! 

So pray on the day of prayer and spend a few moments each day intensely focused on working out your spiritual body in prayer, but pray all the time too. "Help!" is a prayer. Be willing to ask for help and to listen to God wherever you are. And expect God to speak. It's really not any more complicated than that. Just like working out our bodies, we can start with a little and get stronger the more we do. Try a prayer you already know. The Lord's Prayer is my favorite. You will find your spiritual life growing and more vibrant all day long. This National Day of Prayer is a great day to start working out.

Learn more about how you can be a part of the National Day of Prayer by visiting the Christian Emphasis at the YMCA of South Hampton Roads' Facebook page or the National Day of Prayer webpage

See more of Ron Jones' insights by visiting his webpage here.