Broken sleep, broken hearts…
Last night my head ached, again, and I could not find a comfortable way to hold it so that it would not hurt. So eventually, I just got up from my bed and went downstairs, hoping that a drink, my couch and some medicine would bring comfort and rest. As usual, when I got up, our dog, Roy, got up with me.
My thoughts wandered to all the people in my life who need prayers, and I mentioned each of them to the Lord as they came to mind. So many people, and so many needs, streamed through my mind and heart as I prayed, even as my head continued to ache. Over the years I’ve learned that, sometimes, when I am wakeful and unsettled like this, the only way to find relief is to pray my way out of it.
Last night my prayers went up for people who suffer affliction, addiction, loneliness. I thought about the bereaved, the deceived, the diseased. People around me are struggling with burdens I cannot even begin to imagine…but when I lift them up in prayers, I know that, at least for that moment, they don’t struggle alone.
And neither do I. God is with me, whether I am conscious of it or not. I can feel Him, in the quiet of the night, in promptings to pray…even in the comfort of my couch, a cold drink and doggie snuggles.
Encounters with God…
Scripture tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing”. It sounds simple enough…but who among us has ceaseless hours to spend in prayer? While I do try to spend meaningful chunks of time with God, more often than not, my prayers come in smaller pieces throughout the day.
I believe that God honors whatever time we offer back to Him, wherever we are. Oftentimes I’ll read a prayer request on social media, and I take a quick moment right then to lift that person and the need up in prayer, and acknowledge that “One just went up,”. And anytime I think of it, another one will go up. The social media prayer army is a powerful tool we have to reach a lot of prayer warriors at one time, and I’ve seen many people join together to intercede on a friend’s behalf in this way. This is technology at its very best.
Sticky notes live in my Bible, reminders of someone I have promised to pray for, situations needing God’s attention and intervention. It’s not pretty, but it’s a handy way to remember a request until I can write it down someplace more permanent. For a while, Jeff and I kept a list of prayer needs on the fridge door, because we knew that was the one place where we’d both see them regularly! I need to reinstate that routine, especially now, when I am praying for so many needs and situations.
Then there are the “stoplight” prayers. After I began my extended unit of CPE several years ago, I realized in a whole new way how a blaring siren and flashing lights can signal a life being changed, or ended, often in the blink of an eye. Anytime I see or hear an emergency vehicle, I say a quick prayer for everyone involved in whatever that crisis or situation is, including the chaplain who is likely to catch that call and help in tending to wounds both seen and unseen.
All of these are little ways I can care for the people around me, the ones I know and love, and the ones I will never even meet. Ways I can love my neighbor. Ways I can encounter God and pray without ceasing.