I've said it before, but I don't mind saying it again. The thing I love most about Kennedy Stern from my Kennedy Stern Christian suspense series is that she is always growing. She's being constantly stretched, her worldview is constantly expanding, and she's slowly gaining that maturity she lacked in chapter 1 of Unplanned when she made her way to Pastor Carl's pregnancy center for the very first time.
It's not just her view of the world that's expanding either. Kennedy's faith is slowly growing, slowly gaining momentum. Included in that is her prayer life. This conversation from book 4 in the Kennedy Stern series really stands out to me because it speaks so much about our own prayers and quiet times. I actually heard a pastor preach the same thing the camp speaker told Kennedy so many years earlier, and I think a lot of us have fallen into the same trap she did.
Kennedy knew she should pray but lacked the spiritual stamina to do so. As a little girl, she’d once gone to a Christian summer camp where the speaker shared a story about what happened when he told his atheist friend, “I’ll be praying for you.”
“Why?” the atheist wanted to know.
“Because it’s so easy,” had been the speaker’s glib response. And for a decade or more, Kennedy had lived under the assumption that prayer was supposed to be simple, that if you could spend hours daydreaming about Shakespeare or your best friend whom you might never see again, you could just as easily spend that idle time in communion with the Father. Pray without ceasing. Isn’t that what the Bible said? And for years, she figured there must be something wrong with her. Since prayer was supposed to be so easy, she was even more pathetic as a Christian for not being able to do it right or do it well.
Well, since then she’d learned how wrong that camp speaker really was. Anyone who said praying was easy didn’t understand the mental energy it took to stay focused and faithful in spite of all of life’s distractions. In spite of the heaviness that could storm around your brain like a tempest.
No, prayer wasn’t easy. Neither was running a marathon. But that didn’t mean either was impossible. It just meant you had to start slow. Baby steps. Disciplined training. Kennedy couldn’t go outside tonight and run ten miles straight. But she could manage a mile. Maybe a little more. And if she did that every single day, after a week or two she could run two miles. Then three. The fact that she couldn’t spend a whole night in prayer didn’t mean that she should get discouraged and never pray at all. A couple minutes here, a few minutes there, and eventually her mind would achieve the degree of focus she needed for more prolonged spurts of time. She just had to be content to start with small bursts of progress.
What about you? Do you find that you look at prayer as an "all-or-none" deal? Are you content with "small bursts of progress" or do you get discouraged because you're not measuring up to whatever standards you have for yourself when it comes to your own prayer times?
If you (like Kennedy) could use a little practical boost to your prayer life, or just a little bit of encouragement every now and then, the Prevailing Prayer University is a free email-based course I put together to help busy Christians like you stay focused and fight distractions in your prayers. The video below talks about common excuses that keep us from praying (including the one Kennedy deals with above).
Would you like more videos like this? The Prevailing Prayer University is for busy believers like you and is completely free. Sign up here to start getting daily videos like this in your inbox to help you grow in your prayer life.