Pray without ceasing experiment – UPDATE
If you recall, last week I wrote about how I created a prayer challenge for myself basically scheduling a short prayer every hour that took priority over everything else. The goal of it was to shift my prayer time from bigger blocks to more continual shorter spurts of prayer throughout my day. Inspired by 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we should “pray without ceasing” I wanted to use this as a conditioning exercise to push myself more in that direction.
I knew it was going to be very difficult – and it was – but it helped me to get a little better understanding of the benefit of praying short prayers. There is, of course, lots of examples of longer periods of prayer all throughout the new testament – so that should not be neglected either. But for me, the busy-ness of life seemed to get in the way of the constant fellowship that I believe Paul was referring to in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Every hour, when my alarm went off, I would step away from my desk or sneak off to the bathroom if I was with people and I would just spend a few minutes in prayer. The hardest part for me was breaking away from what I was doing. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to pray, it was just that I often get really caught up in what I am doing, and walking away from it can be tough.
Some of the benefits I noticed
- The biggest thing I noticed was that I was more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I felt better “guided” in my decision-making.
- I felt closer to God. The Bible says that if we draw near to Him He will draw near to us. The frequent “drawing near” that resulted from this experiment proved this to be true.
Some of the unexpected benefits I noticed…
- I felt more relaxed throughout my workdays. I assume this was because I was basically taking a short break every hour. I know that sitting at a desk for 4 hours straight can be draining, but that is typically a common occurrence for me.
- Even with the regular “breaks” I was actually more productive, which was probably a byproduct of being more relaxed. I know that my productivity begins to drop off after I have been sitting at my computer for hours. This was a good wake-up-call showing me the benefits of stepping away from the computer.
What this experiment helped me realize is the tremendous value of taking opportunities to pull back from the daily grind and give God my attention. From here forward I intend to keep myself in check and regularly step back give priority to what is most important. Whether that is a still quiet moment listening for direction, thanking God for a small thing, or praying a short prayer, I need to be doing it throughout my day, not just when it fits into my schedule.