And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.—Matthew 18:20 (MSG)
About a month ago, I decided on a different kind of gift for my wife this Valentine’s Day. I was going to offer the gift of prayer.
Now, don’t start rolling your eyes and think that I’m some kind of cheapskate who is bailing out on gifts for my wife this year. That is already covered. But this gift comes as an admission that for at least 6 years of our marriage, I was not the spiritual leader of this home when I should have been.
Last year was a year of renewal of sorts where I decided that I needed to get my spiritual act together and start becoming more disciplined. So, I picked up my Bible and committed to reading every day. Now, I didn’t stick to the task as well as I could, but within 9 months last year, I read through the New Testament, half the Psalms, Proverbs, and an Old Testament overview.
In comparison, over the previous 5 years, I had only been reading a little bit here, a little bit there, and every once in a while in church when they didn’t have a PowerPoint up to read.
This year, I’ve committed to reading two 1-year Bible plans, which I’ve mentioned previously. But I felt like I needed a new avenue to develop this year, something that has been lacking. That area is prayer.
I’ve had a weird prayer life in the 8 years since I’ve accepted Christ. At first, I used to pray in the car on the way to work and on the way home. But then, our pastor at the time taught that probably wasn’t a good idea. He said that you can’t fully focus on God and give Him your full attention when you’re zipping from lane to lane and the other drivers are igniting your temper.
So, discouraged… I stopped, and not just in the car, but pretty much for good. Now, I think it’s fine to pray in the car and completely appropriate, but I think the point that was trying to be made is that it shouldn’t be a substitute for time in a “prayer closet” where you can fully commit to your time and attention to God without distraction.
My commitment for 2010 was 5 minutes in the Bible every day. While you may think that is a lame promise, it’s also one that is pretty hard to mess up… and I need something that I can do well before I try to get better at it. And for the most part, I was able to keep it up every day. I’ll blame the last couple months of the year on Apple’s technical difficulties, but I should have kept it going. That’s really just an excuse. Right now, I’m able to persevere with those same technical issues.
My commitment now for 2011: minimum 5 minutes a day in the Bible and 5 minutes a day in prayer. I can commit to that. It’s easy to block out, and it is a good starting point for developing those habits. I spend 10 minutes a day doing worse things, and when I picked up this book, I thought, “Hey, I can get Erika involved too so we can grow closer together.”
That book wasn’t very helpful after all, but it got the conversation going. And, after all, wouldn’t the promise of wanting to draw closer to my wife through prayer be a great Valentine to my wife? Wouldn’t our mutual promise of wanting to draw closer to each other in covenant marriage and closer to our Lord be a great Valentine to God?
Has mutual prayer helped you in your lives as well? I would be interested to hear about it and any resources you’ve used.
Oh, by the way… Happy Valentine’s Day.