As a child, I seldom had the opportunity to go to church. Looking back, I remember I was always a bit of a seeker. I wanted to know more about God, but He truly seemed so inaccessible. I can remember lying in my bed waiting to pray. I became convinced that since God was so busy, and surely many other people were praying, perhaps I needed to wait for my turn. So, I lay there with my hands clasped waiting. More often than not, I fell asleep before I had a chance to pray.
A few years of frustration went by and then my mother told me prayers needed a postage stamp in order to get up to Heaven. This made sense to me because when I sent my grandparents airmail letters to England, they always required a special stamp. My mother explained the stamp I needed was not one I bought at the post office. Instead, it was the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer, she said, must be prayed first before I launched into any of my own personal petitions. Initially, I was relieved to finally discover this handy prayer secret. However, as time went on my ability to remember perfectly every word of the Lord’s Prayer was iffy at best. Eventually I gave up. I decided my prayers would not make it up to God after all.
As a teenager, I came to know Jesus as my personal savior and was so blessed to have a number of women disciple me. Many of them taught me about prayer and corrected some of my misunderstandings.
My youth pastor’s wife did an amazing job of demonstrating how to live as a Christ follower. One Saturday she invited me to tag along as she drove out to a local retreat center to deliver something to her husband. On the road, the conversation between us flowed easily, and when I expressed concern about something she suggested we pray together. Seconds later she began to talk to God.
“Lord, we thank you that we can pray to you right now about whatever is on our hearts. You know that Anthea is quite worried about her grades in math…”
She continued to pray. She must have sensed somehow my concern. “And Lord would you help Anthea know that we can pray here in the car without closing our eyes, because I’m driving, and we don’t even have to kneel…”
As she prayed, I watched how she simply chatted with the Lord as we drove along in her station wagon. This might be why my car has so often served me well as a prayer closet. What a relief it was to see that God did not expect me to wait my turn to pray, or to have a particular memorized prayer that would guarantee access to him. He’s available all the time, and conversational style prayer is quite acceptable to him. While it is not the only way to pray, it is a tool in my prayer kit that I still use on a daily basis.
Conversations with God on the road can be some of the very best ways to tend our souls.
How about you? Do your prayers sound like conversations? Where do you like to pray?