That Sweet Hour of Prayer

     Forty years…forty years in the wilderness, walking in circles, and doing the same thing over, and over again, the exact same way. When you read about it in the Bible, the Exodus of the Israelites, you can’t really put it in to context. But, when you’ve lived it, and you think back on the long, drawn out, journey you’ve caused yourself, it is truly a revelation.

     Single parenting, relationships, work, family:  they were all met with the same frustration. I kept a furrowed brow, and a busy mind, and a frustrated soul, constantly complaining..all because I didn’t take heed, and just “Look up, and live”.   Bitten, and poisoned, by the circumstances of life, I needed to learn to just look up, fall down to my knees, and talk to Jesus.

     “Lord, just bring me out of this mess one more time.”

     I’d tell Him that. With the sincerest heart, and water filled eyes, I pray for the Son to plead with the Father on my behalf. And, He would do it. He would pull me out, sometimes kickin’ and screaming, and I’d end up right back in the same place…lost.

       Idol gods. We tell ourselves that we would never serve anything other than the Almighty.  Oh, I would give any person the stink eye that accused me of such sacrilege. But in the wilderness, there are so many distractions. I could get caught up in a relationship, and easily forget to say a prayer first thing in the morning. I could get into an argument with family, and be so angry by the end of the day that I’d lay down, and try and sleep, without ever telling the Lord “thank you”. My finances would dwindle to two coins, and a coil of lint, and my mind would become crowded with thought.  I had to learn the importance of repentance, and prayer.

      “He understands. God knows my heart.”

     I’d tell myself that God knew I had good intentions all the time. He knew, and I knew. And, He knew that I knew better. The arrogance of being a preacher’s kid, the pride that comes with the fact that you know the Bible, can be so detrimental. Nobody could tell me anything, even if I was wrong, because I knew what the Word said. But while I was protesting chastisement, I was also carrying a truck load of guilt. I was guilty of disobedience, guilty of pride, guilty of not honoring my Lord, and Savior, with all I had in me. So everything I attempted failed. And again, I’d be feeling horrible.   I had to learn the value of respect, and prayer.

     “Lord, I’m sorry” I’d bellow. “If you’d just bring me out, one more time.”

     And, He’d deliver me from the hand of bondage once again. I’d be as grateful as I could be.  For a while, I’d sing His praises, celebrating Him in song as I mopped the kitchen floor. But, soon after, I’d fall into the same, rotten trap. The telephone would ring, and some heavy gossip would hit my ears, and burn my buscuits! I would be so mad, it would stretch out days. And, I’d forget to pray. Like dominoes, everything would start to fall, one thing, behind the other until I was ready to pull out my hair! But, that pattern of behavior threatened to take me out. And, I had to learn the usefulness of temperance, and prayer.

     When you get tired of routine madness, you just want peace. But, by the time you make up your mind to live peaceFULLY, and peaceABLY, you may be swimming so deep in the river of madness that hitting dry, firm, land can seem like it’s almost out of reach. There’s the job, and the kids, and the grandkids, and the house, and the siblings, and the past. And I….I just felt like I was going to implode. I had anxieties, and migraines, and an unmatched irritability, and I thought “One more thing, one more goose feather on this heavy load, and I’m going to just tip over!”

     “You can make it,….under pressure! If you’d just give it to Jesus, if you just learn a word of prayer, you can make it!”

     One day, while I was agitated, and fussing about one thing, or another, the last sermon my Daddy ever preached came back to remembrance. The words washed over me; showered me. Immediately, I stole a few moments for prayer. And later that day, when Dayton Power and Light called and threatened to leave me in the dark, I stole a few more. And, when a loved one called, and verbally thrashed me up one side, and back down the other, I stole a few more.

     Before I knew it, I had stolen about an hour of Jesus’ time. No, the problems didn’t disappear. And yes, I still had to pay the light bill, but that sweet hour took away the sting; gave me a few moments of peace. And, I’ll take some peace, over no peace, anytime.

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