Are you living in a demanding season of life? If your schedule is overcrowded or when life feels too busy for prayer, this podcast episode will help you prioritize prayer again. Rachel shares how to prioritize a life of prayer.
Why pray when it seems like there is no time to pray? If busyness seems to get the better of your prayer time, then take a few minutes to be encouraged by the sixth episode in the series, “Why Pray?”
In this episode of the series, “Why Pray,” Rachel Wojo shares:
- four ways the psalmist found to pray
- how pain is the prompt to prioritize prayer
God is with you in your pain. He is only a cry away. When you catch a glimpse of how God is working and you begin to see answers to prayer, it makes you want to prioritize prayer even more in your life. But sometimes pain is the prompt to prioritize prayer.
Hello and Welcome to episode 33 of the Untangling Life Podcast. I’m Rachel, and this episode is number 6 in a series called Why Pray.
Why pray when it seems like there is just no time to pray? I tried to find a quote I’ve heard about prayer and busyness. I didn’t find it but the message of the quote was: I don’t believe we can be so busy that there is no time to pray; in fact, busy seasons are an indication that there is no time not to pray.
Right now our family is in a demanding season with events on the calendar. It’s the end of the school year, and I have four kiddos winding down the year. This month we have four end-of-year concerts. My daughter’s birthday was a few days ago and my husband’s birthday is on the 29th. My 18-year-old has a graduation ceremony and her grad party, as well as end-of-the-year events. Three of our five kids living at home are working jobs. My husband and I host a church small group once a week in our home. I hate to use the word “busy” but life is extra busy this month.
Enter the topic of prayer. How do you live a life of prayer when the current season is very full?
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
I Thessalonians 5:18 Pray without ceasing
When we know what the Bible teaches us, then as Christians, our heart’s desire is to prioritize prayer. But it can feel complicated. How do we live a life that prioritizes prayer?
There is a drink that many people love well, and maybe you’re one of those people- you love coffee. Whether you like a frozen caramel latte or a simple cup of black coffee or maybe like me, you need a little cream in your coffee. Whether dark roast or blonde, medium Columbia or Vietnamese blend, coffee is your thing. I’ve seen t-shirts and mugs with a little saying for coffee lovers of this nature. It’s pretty simple; it says: But first, coffee.
What is this shirt really saying? It’s saying, I’m a coffee lover. You give me some coffee in the morning or in the afternoon or in the evening and I’ll do whatever is needed. It says coffee propels me into motion. It moves me. It fills me. It fuels me to start the day.
I would say to you that all this is what I’ve found to be true about prayer. Prayer is good in the morning, in the afternoon, or in the evening. It’s good at any time. Prayer propels me into motion. Prayer moves me. It fills me. It fuels me to start the day. And continue the day. Prayer places my heart at rest at night. And in the middle of the night.
In this podcast, I want to share with you my own personal experience in this area, in hopes that it will help you. Ready? We’re headed to Psalm 119 today.
Psalm 119 is known as the longest psalm in the Bible. At 176 verses, the song was written as an acrostic poem, meaning each set of verses begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. While the entire psalm is a tribute to God’s Word, the section I want to focus on today is focused on prayer. Let’s read verses 145-152:
The writer begins this section with: I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord.
Using all of our hearts doesn’t seem possible when life has strung us out too far, with few margins. I’m not a fan of living a busy, distracted life at any time. But we all know that there are times when we have less control over our schedule than others. It’s a natural part of the beginning and end of seasons. It’s a part of family living. The psalmist is letting God know that he is all the way in this prayer. He is surrendered and in need. He would treasure an answer
Some of you may be listening to the podcast for the first time. At the time of this recording, 1,232 days have passed since my precious daughter Taylor left us for heaven. In the years prior to her deepest suffering, I learned to lean on God for daily living. I didn’t have enough strength to get through a day on my own and through prayer, I found the hope, courage, and love from the Lord that I needed to get through a day.
I often clung to Jeremiah 29:13; You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
But when Taylor grew more ill and her suffering worsened, the urgency of my cries to the Lord deepened. I believe that’s why the psalmist repeats this phrase in Psalm 119. Verse 145 says I call with all my heart, answer me, Lord, but then verse 146 repeats:
I call out to you.
The repetitive nature of the verses indicates an insistence and persistence. He adds: Save me.
Can you hear the despair in his voice? Can you feel his pleas of desperation? That’s where I was in Taylor’s suffering towards the end of her life. God, save her. The uncontrolled seizures scrambled her brain without warning and caused her midsection to thrust, resulting in violent vomiting. All of that kept me on my knees before the Lord. I begged for him to take Taylor home because her little body had been so ravaged by disease that it was too far gone for earthly good. I knew her healing would be in heaven. Her symptoms propelled me to intercede for her before the throne of heaven continually. I’m not sure that I’m describing the depth of my cries to God at that time.
It is not 100% known who wrote Psalm 119. There are many authors to individual songs in the book of psalms and some begin with the name of the writer disclosed, but for Psalm 119, many believe David was the author. Regardless of who wrote the song, it is written in first person. This indicates that Psalm 119 was written by a single person. This individual obviously felt the pain of life. In verse 147, he says:
I rise before dawn and cry for help.
In the season of Taylor’s end of life that I described for you earlier, I was rising early every day for multiple reasons. One was because I have other children, and life had to keep moving. There was still school to attend. Lunches still had to be made; dishes washed. Laundry done. So I would get up early, before all the mandatory tasks of the day, and blanket myself on the couch with my Bible, reading and praying, crying out for help. Secondly, Taylor was in pain, and the medication alarm would sound, spurring me to grab the next dose and try to keep her as comfortable as we could.
Maybe you’ve been there or are there now. In a place of the valley of the shadow of death, perhaps it is ahead, and the shadow is casting over you now. You wake up early because of the pain of a loved one or maybe because of your own pain. So many people in the world wake up in pain. It is a reminder to surrender to the Lord, isn’t it? For some of you, the pain keeps you awake at night.
Years upon years, Taylor’s disease caused her not to sleep at night. I slept very lightly for those years. The old phrase, “Sleeping with one eye open” certainly applied to me during that season. The psalmist reminds us what to do in this season. He says:
My eyes stay open through the watches in the night that I may meditate on your promises.
Recently I listened to a podcast interview with Joni Eareckson Tada, whose ministry is focused on sharing hope in hardship. As a quadriplegic, she has encouraged thousands upon thousands of people to find their hope in Jesus. But in this recent interview, I heard her talk about how she wakes up in pain, and she has a lot of trouble sleeping at night. She can’t move her own body to try to make herself more comfortable and she often doesn’t want to wake her husband yet again and ask him to shift the weight. So she described how she prays for others in the night. She sings the psalms back to God. She meditates on Scripture and often recites passages to herself and to the Lord. She makes prayer a priority.
CS Lewis has said:
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
I can attest to this quote in my life. When Taylor was so ill, the pain shouted at me to talk to God. Sometimes in anger, sometimes in grief and sorrow, sometimes in love, but I prioritized prayer because it seemed the only way to live.
I confess to you now that while our family is enduring other issues and complications, none are life and death at the moment. Pain is not currently blanketing our home with a cloudy thickness on a moment-by-moment basis. And because that kind of pressing pain is absent, it would be easy to let the busyness of this season prevent me from prioritizing prayer. But what I have been taught by the Lord in my life is that I don’t have to have desperate circumstances in my life to know that I’m desperate for God. I can do nothing without him. I need him with all my heart. If you read my prayer journal today, you would see the words over and over “Jesus, I need you.”
In today’s passage, the psalmist says I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord., I call out to you, save me.I rise before dawn and cry for help. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night. He is sharing that no matter the moment whether one of urgency, one of pain, the morning or at night, he knows that his communication with the heavenly Father is a priority.
Whether in a season of pain or a struggle with prioritizing, I’ve been asking God to keep me humble. To help me to be as desperate for him without pain as I am in pain. To be persistent in my prayers to him no matter the form of the urgencies of life, whether pain or prioritization.
And the psalmist reminds us in the closing verses of this section
Yet you are near Lord, all your commands are true. Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever. Psalm 119:151
May the prayers I prayed at the bedside of my dying daughter continue to be the prayers I pray each day.
God, I need you. Every hour of every day. From the moment that I wake up until I rest my head on the pillow again, may my heart seek to be in communion with you alone. Amen.
ON MY DESK
This week on my desk, I have the In His Presence Bible Reading Plan & Journal which complements our community Bible Reading Challenge for May. If you are asking yourself how can I experience the presence of God, then you can join us by printing this journal at home or marking it up your device.
You can find this at: rachelwojo.com/shop. And as always, you’ll find tons of free resources at rachelwojo.com, including prayer journals, bible reading plans, and more.
Thanks so much for listening today. Until next time, God sees you and knows your need.Support Rachel’s podcast and ministry by shopping the store.