Welcome to my guest, Lisa Appelo, who is reminding us that prayer is more than a discipline. Lisa shows us that prayer is part of the love relationship with God through Jesus, our Savior.
I am not a disciplined person. My older sister got all the Type-A genes and me? I was the girl who stuffed her alarm clock way back in the closet in second grade so I wouldn’t be bothered by wake-up times. In ballet, I loved free dance and despised bar work. Later, as a young graduate, I enjoyed practicing law with briefs and buttoned-up suits, but sorely missed the creativity of my journalism days.
So when I see prayer described as a discipline, something in me bristles a wee bit. Is this going to require a rigid schedule? Do I need a checklist showing what to do and how to do it?
Who wants discipline in a relationship? I want to fall in love. I want to crave time together. I want to know intimately and I want to know the conversation doesn’t have to fall within double yellow lines.
I used to chide myself for not praying more, praying better, praying with more focus and organization. But that’s not what the discipline of prayer means. Prayer as a spiritual discipline is prayer given in devotion. I’ve come to see prayer as part of the love relationship with our Savior. It’s an outflow of a heart bound up in Christ’s.
Prayer is a love language
Prayer is our love language with God. We can go to Him at any time. Before my husband died, our conversations were natural and ongoing. They were never scheduled or scripted. We didn’t have checklists to cover. Our conversations weren’t a must-do but a get-to. I’d call him with a question or needed perspective after a full morning with kids and he’d call me on the way home or on the road. We had conversations in the car, around the table, side-by-side in the dark on our pillows. I knew his voice intimately and it made my heart jump until the day he went home to heaven.
Our prayers with God can—and should—be natural and ongoing. I’m learning more and more to go to God in continual conversation throughout the day. I pray in the car, spilling out my emotions and fears. I pray when I’m facing something too big and too hard. I pray through the day as I single parent. It’s an ongoing conversation, without need of a tidy must-do list, a perfect beginning or ending.
We can go to God at any time and with anything. When my prayer time is unbounded and unrestricted, I can pray as needs come up through the day. It might be big needs like wisdom in parenting a certain child or courage to do a new hard thing. It might be an urgent request for help finding keys or something super practical, like grace for the right tights at Target needed for an audition in 30 minutes.
We can go to God with our messy emotions and hard questions. These too are part of prayer. We don’t have to bottle them up or figure them out on our own; instead, we can lay them before God and trust them to Him. We find lament and hard questions all through the Psalms. Look at the deep pain and emotional anguish of the psalmist in Psalm 6:6-7 (NIV):
“I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
And in Psalm 13:1-2 (NIV), the psalmist doesn’t hold back but wrestles through hard questions with God:
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Prayer is also God’s love language with us. God woos us to Himself and His heart in prayer. Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV) says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” God reveals Himself, His will, His heart and our sin through prayer. It’s in prayers of surrender that we ask God to help us let go of our wants and longings to take up His. And it’s in prayers of confession, our sin is uncovered and we can ask forgiveness.
We don’t have to be Type-A to enjoy the rich, spiritual discipline of prayer. We don’t have to pray at the same time, same place and in the same way each time. When prayer is our love language, we’ll crave communication. We’ll go to God authentically, because we’re safe in His intimacy. And we’ll go to God continually, knowing every need, every hope, every answer is with Him.
Lisa Appelo is an author and speaker inspiring women to cultivate faith in life’s storms. Ten years ago, Lisa became a sudden widow and single mom to 7. She’s published at many sites including Proverbs 31 Ministries, (in)courage, and Risen Motherhood, and her book Life Can Be Good Again: Putting Your World Back Together After It All Falls Apart releases April, 2022.
As a former litigating attorney, Lisa is passionate about rich Bible teaching. Get your free copy of 7 Days of Hope for Your Shattered Heart at LisaAppelo.com and connect with Lisa on Instagram @lisaappelo.