How’s your prayer life?
This is a question that I’ve heard constantly as I’ve grown up in the church.
Are you setting aside time to be still?
I’ve also asked this constantly of people I’ve ministered to and with.
Devo time. Spending time in the Word. Meditating. Centering prayer. Contemplative prayer.
It’s called different things to many different people, but it is the same drum that I’ve beaten or heard beaten for as long as I can remember.
So why has it taken me SO LONG to get to the point where I actually look forward to that time in the morning before the sun has risen, when I can light my candle (right now, this one’s black cherry and vanilla-scented courtesy of Bath and Body Works), and listen?
There are a number of reasons why (that I’ll get into later, in some future post), but the one I want to focus on today is based on Ephesians 6:12:
For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens (NABRE).
Guys, spiritual warfare is real. I don’t know how you grew up talking about it or processing it, but in my particular faith journey, I grew up in the charismatic movement in the Catholic Church, where we talked pretty comfortably about the fact that there are other things at work beyond what we can see.
When I went to grad school at the Union, I kind of shied away from talking about verses like Ephesians 6 so literally because I was afraid my classmates would look at me like I was a crazy person.
At the time, I would reason to myself (with my newfound knowledge of historical context and “the world behind the text”) that the verses by Paul were written during a time when people talked about spirits and the supernatural all the time — so that’s how they made sense of the world. It clearly doesn’t apply to today because Science. Medicine. Psychology. You know, all those things that make us fancy, post-Renaissance thinkers.
But lately, I’ve been wondering whether an outright dismissal of all talk of the supernatural is just another version of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Imagine how excited I when just a few days ago, I started hearing about Pope Francis’ latest apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate and how it specifically mentions spiritual combat and vigilance (see paragraphs 159-165).
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that one of my biggest turning points has been the recognition that God is calling me to enter into the fullness time in my present, very ordinary circumstances. In the here and now.
Because of time that I’ve spent doing the Ignatian Examen daily, just over the past several weeks, my eyes have been opened to ways in which the Enemy is hard at work, in my present, very ordinary circumstances, to steal our joy, to to lie to us and our loved ones about ourselves and who we are to one another, to spark division and discord.
It is only through prayer that I’ve been given eyes to see and ears to hear.
And the Lie that we are being fed, the Lie that we begin to believe and tell ourselves is that:
You’re too busy to pray.
There are too many urgent things that need your attention. You don’t have time to pray.
What difference does it make anyway? Prayer is just another way for holy people to brag about being holy.
Do any of these lines sound familiar? Because let me tell you, I’m done believing them and I’m ready to start hearing what God has to say.