Pray Until You Pray!

My daughter called me on her way home from work.  This isn’t an unusual occurrence, which makes this old man very happy.  On this specific occasion, she hadn’t had the greatest of days.  Which made the typical “Tell me about your day” conversation starter, a non-starter.


Thus, after the initial greeting and revelation of her bad day, our conversation seemed to hit a wall.  All I could hear was the sound of the wind blowing in through her car window, as she drove down the road.  Seeing that she had called while I was mid-stream in my work day and we had hit an almost immediate lull in the conversation, I thought that this was going to be a short call.  So, I continued to work, as she continued to drive.     


After what seemed to be a few minutes (actually only a few seconds) of silence, I decided, instead of getting off the phone, to ask her a question about her plans when she got home.  That led to a conversation about her Facebook post from earlier that day.  Which led to a recap of her weekend visit with friends.  Which led to conversation about what she was watching on Netflix.  Pretty soon twenty minutes had passed, she was sitting in the parking lot of her apartment and she needed to go in to walk her dog.


In other words, what started off as a conversation that had no direction, no purpose and no depth, just silence and wind blowing; evolved into a wonderful conversation about life, friends, plans and a new true crime documentary.  What it ended up being was so much better than it what it started out being.  Why?  Two reasons: (1) Time and (2) Desire. 


I stuck with the conversation, even when I wanted to end it.  I did this because she is my daughter and I wanted to have a conversation with her.  If I had ended the conversation, in the first few painful minutes, I would have missed out on what it became. I bet some of you would have thought me rude and a horrible father if I had told you that I ended the conversation.


Well, let me ask you a question: How was my desire to end the conversation with my daughter, because it seemed pointless, any different than your desire to end a conversation with God?  You know what I’m asking.  Why don’t you pray more? 


I bet it’s because you think, just like the beginning of my conversation with my daughter, that it’s pointless. Yet, just like my conversation with my daughter, have you ever thought about what you have been missing, because you haven’t desired to give a conversation with God the time?  Are you rude and a horrible person because you end your conversations with God prematurely? 


There’s an old Puritan saying: “Pray until you pray!”  What does this mean?  D.A. Carson, in his book Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation, describes it this way: “What this means is that Christians are called to pray long enough and honestly enough, in a single session, to get past the feeling of formalism and unreality that attends a little bit of praying.


We are especially prone to such feelings when we pray for only a few minutes, rushing to be done with a mere duty.  To enter the spirit of prayer, we must stick to it for a while.  If we ‘pray until we pray,’ eventually we come to delight in God’s presence, to rest in his love, to cherish his will.” 


If I’m going to give my daughter my desire and my time, then why wouldn’t I do the same for God?  How many wonderful revelations and how much inspiration have we all missed out on, simply because we weren’t willing to pray until we pray?  We haven’t desired to give enough time to prayer.  


Thus, too many of us think that prayer is pointless, boring and futile.  We think this because we hang up on God the very moment that the conversation seems to hit a lull.  In order for my conversation with my daughter to be a blessing, I had to push through the lull.  When I did, I experienced a simply wonderful conversation that connected us on a deeper level.  It strengthened our relationship, as opposed to the fracturing that would have occurred if I had gotten off the phone quickly.  


Why don’t you give it a try?  Pray until you pray!  What do you have to lose?  What do you have to gain?  Oh, and try the very same thing the next time you talk to your son, your daughter, your spouse, your friend, your father, your mother, your brother or your sister.