Prayer-Snooze? Look, See, Pray

Sea otters can sleep on their backs even in the open seas, sometimes clasping their offspring tightly and safely. They are unbelievably cute and fluffy! One of my favourite animals in the world.

A few years ago I discovered a snag about prayer. Trying to pray at bedtime was a major failure because I kept falling asleep. With the addition of a “few” more years, the falling asleep problem has expanded… even sitting down is a problem, yet kneeling on wrecked knees is distracting because of the creaking (and my squeals). Cue a major guilt trip?

Many of us find it easy to criticise ourselves over prayer. We “ought” to pray more, better, eloquently and with fabulous answers.

Sometimes that’s true enough- our prayer life may be in need of attention.

More often, it seems to me we should learn to pray smarter, not just with more perspiration!

Pastors get the privilege of sabbatical leave every seven years- or should do- which is an opportunity to grow the soul through study, travel, retreats (etc.). I attended a Franciscan priory for a week of “prayer and meditative reading” which sounds very holy. There is a small library with a range of books, a few tables, and some quite comfortable chairs. Anyway, being woken by the bell for supper(!) I felt as though I had wasted a rare chance of getting closer to God.

Blessedly, one of the brothers took pity on me. With a gentle smile, he told me that my experience was extremely common with their guests: and he said that the community had discovered something vital. One of the greatest needs of their visitors was undisturbed REST. A good sleep recharged body, mind and spirit. In fact, it was often the most holistic part of the retreat- a gift from God.

So… do you need a prayer-snooze? Perhaps download the photo of the sea-otter and put it where you will see it frequently?

I do believe that we can pray from a poor motive- “if I don’t pray, God will be in such a mess and everything wrong in the world will be MY fault.” Just writing that down makes it very obvious that is a VERY silly attitude indeed! God loves our prayers, but praying isn’t like feeding a slot machine to “make God work.”

Yes, prayer does matter. I have learned that I pray less sleepily if I stay upright, preferably in the open air. Have you discovered your “best match” of time, place and posture that helps you “pray as you can” rather than feeling a failure for “not praying as you can’t” ???

Elijah in crisis was sent to bed then given breakfast. (1 Kings 19).

Jesus let the disciples sail the boat and took a prayer-snooze until the panic-stricken sailors woke him. (Mark 4:35-41)

Dare I suggest that God might allow us the same privilege? In the pace and complexity of modern living, one thing that easily gets squeezed out is peaceful rest. I truly believe that our Heavenly Father is good and gracious enough to encourage us to gratefully accept the gift of prayer-snoozing. If you disagree, go and have a lie-down and think it through (then when you wake up, you may have changed your mind!).

Grace, peace, and a nice snooze be yours in abundance.

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