For many years, my wife Judith and I have been in the habit of praying together every morning. We pray for each other, for our children, for others that we know and sometimes also for wider issues. We don’t spend long at it, maybe a few minutes or so but it is an ingrained habit. So much so that it generally feels wrong when we miss doing it for some reason. We take it in turns to each pray for two of our four children. We don’t pray deep or extensive prayers and they can tend to be rather repetitive as we are often pretty much praying the same things for them each day.
A few years ago when Bethany our daughter was living in Cardiff, Judith was on a trip to Rwanda for a couple of weeks with her school. I was on my own at home with some of our boys. Shortly after church one Sunday, I received a tearful phone call from Beth. She had been leading worship at her own church in Cardiff that morning and it had all gone wrong in some way. I can’t remember the details of what happened but Bethany was fairly new to this level of responsibility and expectation and I think it was the first time she had experienced something like this going ‘pear shaped’. It was enough to upset her badly and for some reason she also felt that it was her fault.
I quizzed Beth a bit about whether she was reading her Bible and spending time with God and whether she had prepared properly and prayed that morning. She assured me that she had so I encouraged her not to blame herself and reassured her that things don’t always go how we expect and perhaps she just needed to learn that. As Beth hung up the phone, the following words appeared unmistakably in my mind as if God directly placed them there – ‘You know the person who didn’t pray this morning was you’….and it was true!
I had completely failed to register the fact that because Judith was not at home we were not following our regular habit of praying for our children together each morning. Of course that did not stop me from still praying for them on my own, but for some reason I had not valued this regular and seemingly repetitive praying enough to make sure to carry on with it even while Judith was away.
Was my lack of prayer the real reason that things went wrong for Bethany? I don’t know, but it was me who needed to learn an important lesson from it that day. We should never think that praying similar things every day has little value. God still hears it and Jesus himself told the story about the persistent widow who persuaded even the unjust judge to her cause by continually asking him the same thing (Luke 18:1-8). Jesus ends that story by saying how much more will God respond to us constantly crying out to Him.
Any prayer to God is better than no prayer to Him and we should: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thess 5:16-18 NLT