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I had it all planned out, you know. I knew just how it was going to go.
As you may have guessed from all the posts I've been writing on prayer lately, my morning devotions have often been very sweet and powerful in the past few weeks. And I knew that today would be the same, because it's a no-school day in our district. Surely everyone else would sleep in, and I could have uninterrupted prayer and reading time to enjoy at leisure.
It started out just fine, too. I was the first one awake, and it was easy to hide the glowing light of my Kindle under the blanket and read the many wonderful words for today in my favorite devotional books (I read actual Scriptures at night before going to sleep, to give me a proper focus for my thoughts as I drift off...or as I lie awake with insomnia as I sometimes do).
I was so touched by those wonderful words, some penned hundreds of years ago, some in the early 20th century, and some much more recently. God has always had witnesses, and it's such a blessing when their words are preserved for future generations!
But then I got my prayer list out and started to pray.
Unlike most recent days, for some reason I couldn't focus.
And people were getting up, much earlier than I expected.
And the phone began ringing. Seriously, nobody ever calls our home that early. But it happened this morning, more than once. Resentment tempted me, and I am afraid that at least one caller could probably tell that fact.
Even after the calls ended, I could hear life going on downstairs, and I simply could not focus. I began to rush through my list (it's long), but tried to maintain a prayerful focus despite it.
I only got through a small fraction of the list.
But God was speaking. This time it was my turn to listen.
"Betsy, what do you believe about prayer? About prayer time?
Do you believe that I will refuse to bless your family
if you can't focus on your prayers this morning
or finish your list?
Do you believe that your prayer activities
are powerful in themselves,
or do you believe that I am powerful on your behalf?
Do you believe my power is only available
at certain times of day?
"Which do you think is better?
A heart humbly submitted to My sovereign will,
even when I allow your prayer time to be interrupted,
or a heart irritated and unsettled at those who interrupted?"
If you resent My other children,
and My timing in sending them,
can your heart really be in a proper posture to pray for them?
Don't you think,
if I want you to pray for people,
that I also want you to humbly serve them
and bless them even when they don't
fit into your sense of timing?
Even when they dare to interrupt prayer?
Yep. That still, small voice packs a wallop.
A large part of my prayer focus these days is "Thy Kingdom come." I pray it for specific situations and people, not as a rote statement, but much more mindfully than that.
Scripture tells us that the Kingdom is "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17). Of course, there's more to it than that, but it can't be less than that.
Do I -- who regularly pray for the Kingdom to come -- do I seek to receive each moment, each change of my plans, with a heart that's submissive to the King, that can walk in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit?
If so, then "prayer time" can be interrupted without ugliness, and without fear of a "bad day." My heart can pray wherever and whenever because it's properly postured to do so.
If I don't seek to receive my life on His terms, does it really matter what I say while I'm on my knees?
Notice, I didn't say that my prayers don't matter if I haven't mastered this heart posture. Thank the Lord that's not the case, or there would be no hope for me! But seeking first the Kingdom, not mastering it, is the command that is given. The kingdom has only one Master.
Notice, too, it's "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." Countless religious systems can offer a semblance of peace (more like "resignation") that can lower blood pressure. That is NOT the kingdom of our Lord.
My righteousness, my peace, and my joy are in Him. The world didn't give it to me (John 14:27), and the world can't take it away.
Even if they can take away my morning prayer time.