I can’t remember exactly when I started to crave conversations with God, but it was somewhere in the late ‘70s. One Sunday morning our pastor challenged us to choose one hour during the week to spend in prayer. His sermon detailed prayer’s incredible advantages, and when he threw out his challenge, I decided to take it up.
But one whole hour? It sounded like something only a monk could do. I knew with three little children at home, I’d have to get a babysitter if I was going to do it. I picked a day, dropped the kids at the sitter’s and went home to pray. Because I was tired, I decided to write my prayers longhand, a surefire way to stay awake.
Once I got started, there were so many people and topics to cover, I didn’t even finish before the hour was over. I’d failed at regular praying in the past yet knew it was the right thing to do, so tried to pray another hour the next week, too, and every week after that. Sudden obstacles often jumped in the way, and sometimes I’d have to stay up very late, but week to week, the prayer got done.
I began looking forward to our meeting times and had full confidence God would always be waiting for me. And amazingly, praying brought changes. I wanted more of that so thought I’d try to bump my weekly prayer hour to a daily 30 minutes, and it worked well. Often we’d talk for over an hour. God seemed to bring that time out of nowhere.
The two of us sailed along with our daily conversations for 11 years. Then Nate got sick, and everything about our lives changed overnight. The schedules filled with doctor appointments, and our empty nest filled with family. My passion to pray was suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to spend time with Nate and the rest of the family gathered from far and wide. I felt guilty ignoring my appointments with God but had to completely let go of organized prayer. That left us with an intense need for God’s steady counsel but a lack of time to seek it out. It was a dilemma I couldn’t fix, and I felt terrible about it.
One day, a couple of weeks into our 42 day tornado of disease, my mind flooded with God’s solution to the problem. “I’ve appointed others to stand in the gap for you and yours,” he assured me. “Down the road, we’ll pick up where we left off.”
Then he proved it to me. Day after day we opened stacks of mail from precious friends and even strangers. Nearly every card included the words, “We are praying for you.” Some detailed exact requests they were taking to God on our behalf, and others cited specific Scripture passages they were claiming. An astonishing number said, “We’re bringing you to God every single day.” I will never get over such devotion and love.
And here we are, five weeks after Nate’s death. Monday morning it was as if I heard the Lord say, “How about getting together today?”
We’ve been meeting ever since. When I stopped praying those 30-plus minutes each day, unwelcome circumstances had rushed in to fill the time. But this week, the time came back to me. After relocating my prayer clipboard with its lists, notebook paper and pen, I could sit down and heave a deep sigh of contentment, thankful to once again partner with God in this unique way, because I need our conversations now more than ever.
“If we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:25-26)