What If Walking with Jesus Is Prayer?

. So many people long for answers to questions that seem to have no answers. Some long for peace in the middle of chaos. Others are searching for some new, fresh, and amazing tool that will empower you to slay the dragons breathing down your neck.

You may be thinking that prayer doesn’t work for you. Or maybe you constantly pray, and the chaos grows all around you. But, unfortunately, prayer sometimes makes you even more anxious and upset because you are begging God for help, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

Whatever you are thinking, stick with me as we reframe the kind of prayer I am suggesting.

Establish fixed times of prayer.

There is a three-thousand-year-old practice called the fixed hour of prayer. Fixed-hour prayer is the oldest form of Christian spiritual practice and has its roots in Judaism. It means praying in the morning to start your day. It means praying in the middle of your day and at the end of your day.

Again – this is a three-thousand-year-old prayer practice.

1000 B.C. – prayers of David

It was customary for a Jewish person to interrupt the day to pray three times. We see this prayer rhythm practiced by David.

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon, I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. Psalm 55:16-17

500 B.C. – prayers of Daniel

Fast forward five hundred years and the Hebrews are captives of the Syrians. Daniel was known for praying three times a day. Even though it was illegal! A new law had been signed that you could only pray to the Syrian King.

Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house … and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him. Daniel 6:10

Prayers of Jesus.

Jesus himself was a rabbinic Jew. He continued this practice of prayer. We often read in the new testament of Jesus leaving his followers to go off by themselves to pray. He taught daily prayer to his followers.

In Western Christianity, prayer has been reduced to a short prayer three times a day before meals. In Eastern Christianity, prayer is still practiced as three meaningful prayer times daily.

Bottom line? We must establish a new way of thinking about prayer – a new frame of mind. If we want to establish prayer as a new rule in life, we need a new way of thinking about prayer.

First, let’s look at the three functions of prayer.

Prayer is living with Jesus.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:4

Living with Jesus is an Eastern concept that we need help to get in our Western thinking. “Remain in me” is also translated as:

“Abide in me.” “Dwell in me.” “Stay in me.” “Live with me.”

What would happen if we saw prayer as doing life with Jesus?

We all know there is a difference between living with someone and doing life with someone. There were periods when our teenage kids lived with us but did not do life with us. They were present physically, but they were not present emotionally, socially, or mentally. Their heads were somewhere else.

Our son’s head was wrapped around football. Jered started playing in middle school and didn’t stop until he graduated from college. He was a great football player, the coaches said. A throwback to the perfect fullback, the college scouts told us.

Our daughter’s head was wrapped around music, theatre, and drama. She sang constantly, and I do mean constantly. She lived, ate, and breathed music. Jered often told her he would pay her to stop singing for an hour. She tried. She couldn’t do it.

What if we saw prayer as a way to say, “Jesus, I want to live today with you.”

What if we started our day with this kind of prayer?

-Before you roll out of bed.

-While you are in the shower.

-Sitting with God before you leave the house.

-Praying while you drive to work.

Saying a prayer in the morning reminds me to live that day with Jesus. So one prayer I use is straight from Jesus’ instructions on how to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:19-13

Sometimes my prayer is simply giving my day to Jesus. “Jesus, I give you myself today. I want to do life with you today. I surrender my agenda for the day and place it at your feet. Let’s do this day together.”

When our daughter was in middle school, one of her best friends was Amanda. They talked on the phone constantly. One night, I called everyone to dinner – and everyone came – except Danna. I found her in the living room watching T.V., phone beside her on the couch.

“What are you doing, honey? It’s time to eat dinner,” I said. She looked up at me and smiled as if that was the first time she had heard me call her. Thinking back, she probably didn’t hear me because she was so wrapped up with Amanda. “I’m watching T.V. with Amanda.” She picked up the phone and said, “Amanda, I’ll be back in a little while. I have to go eat dinner.”

Danna then laid the phone beside her – didn’t end the call – just laid the phone down.

“Why don’t you just call her back after dinner?” I asked. Danna smiled and said, “It’s okay. Her mom just called her to dinner, too. So we will eat together and then finish watching our show. We don’t want to lose our connection.”

It took me a minute, but I got it. Danna knew it would be easy to end her conversation with Amanda and call her back after dinner, but if she didn’t finish the call, it was as if there had been no disconnect. In Danna’s mind, you don’t disconnect a best friend. Wow! A new meaning of prayer began to form in my mind. Prayer is always leaving the line open. Prayer is never disconnecting my life from the life of Christ. Prayer means I am always available to Jesus and Jesus is always available to me.

What if we say our morning prayer as living with Jesus? How different would our days be if we began each day with the mindset that prayer is living with Jesus?

Prayer is listening to Jesus.

The second function of daily prayer for me is to listen and to set aside time and space to hear from God.

Come, my children, and listen to me. Psalm 34:11

God wants to speak to us, to talk with us, but we have to make time to listen. There are many ways to do this. For example, some guys in my husband’s fireside group start their day by listening to prayer. Then, they take a few minutes to read scripture and listen to God every morning.

One of our pastors at the Restore Park Hill campus does her listening prayer in the afternoon.

She sets the alarm for the middle of her day, and when the alarm goes off, she shuts her office door and sits quietly, asking God to speak.

Sometime during your day, get alone with God and listen to Him.

Prayer is learning from Jesus.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Jesus invites me to learn from Him. When I am still before him, I remember that he is God. He is faithful, holy, and merciful.

Every night – right before bedtime – I review what I have learned from Jesus that day. Then, I study the day and relive what I learned.

I ask God Questions like:

  • What was the main thing I learned from you today?
  • Where did I encounter you today?
  • Where did I miss you today?

I do this right before bed – so that my last thoughts of the day are prayers about what I learned from and heard from Jesus that day. That’s it.

Early Christians often referred to prayer as “practicing the presence of Jesus.” But, of course, the key word here is “practice.’ Please know that what I have talked about today is something I am still learning to do. There are days when I don’t get it right. But there are more days when I practice all three prayers at least three different moments in my day. And it is restoring my soul.

  • I am more available to sit in the chaos with others because my soul has rest.
  • I can be at peace in an anxious world because I am doing life with Jesus.
  • I have the courage to do hard things because I have moments where I hear from God.

And because this is a practice, it will feel clunky and impossible when you first start. And you will make excuses as to why this may work for others but will never work for you. Then, you will try it and say it doesn’t work, because some days it doesn’t. But I promise you; it is a practice that reveals its benefits over time.

Our nation recently got a reminder of the importance of prayer. When Damar Hamlin, a defensive back for the Buffalo Bills, had a cardiac arrest mid-game. Two images will stay with me forever from this week. The Buffalo Bills gathered around their teammate as he received CPR. Weeping as the paramedics pounded his chest, desperately trying to get a pulse. His teammates were kneeling and praying. I heard sports announcers pray aloud during their broadcasts. Football players from other teams gathered to pray. It was unlike anything I had ever seen.

All 32 prayed for Damar. It seemed like the whole world suddenly stopped and prayed. I believe God not only used this crisis of Damar Hamlin to remind us that we need Jesus, but he also chose Damar and his parents, who are strong Christians, to manage this crisis in such a beautiful way that honored God and turned the eyes of the world to him.

Should we pray in times of emergency? Absolutely! But prayer is so much more than just our 911 line to God. Prayer is living with Jesus, learning from Jesus, and listening to Jesus.

Jesus says, ‘Come to me when you are weary and burdened, and you will find rest for your soul.’

Mary Southerland

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

One thought on “What If Walking with Jesus Is Prayer?

  1. Hi Mary, that is a lovely post, thank you for writing it. I am not sure if you know of the “Jesus Prayer”. where a person would repeat ” Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me”. It has various forms one of them is “Lord Jesus Christ help me I am a sinner”. The person praying can repeat it sometimes more than 12,000 times a day. It is an ancient prayer. It’s strength lies in reciting the name of “Jesus Christ”


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