On a recent date night, my husband and I had rich conversation. It is beautiful to even get a date night then even better when our love and intimacy grow because of rich conversation. Interestingly enough the rich conversation did not begin until the third hour of our date. We were tempted just to go home after a couple hours but we didn’t and it was worth it.
Small talk and catching up was needed for a couple hours then we got into the good stuff. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Even as the hour of good stuff was happening we had at least 4-5 interruptions. We had to get out of the car, we noticed things around us, we had to decide which ice cream we’d eat. Interestingly enough, even with the interruptions, our conversation got richer and more meaningful. The interruptions were just interruptions and did not stop the depth and richness of our conversation. Arriving home after our date we were grateful we didn’t cut it short. We would have missed out on that last hour of intimate and beautiful conversation and connection.
I wonder if we sometimes cut short our conversations and prayers with God because we don’t think they are getting anywhere. We’re just having “small talk”. Just as we need time to get to the deep, rich, heart things with another person, similarly sometimes it takes time with God as well.
We have all experienced interruptions as we pray and we have all sensed frustration with ourselves. Do you cut your prayers short because you are interrupted? Maybe you think to yourself, “I am not praying good enough.” And let’s be honest, most of us have fallen asleep while praying.
A caveat: Can we work on our prayer lives so we are less likely to fall asleep? Yes. Can we create others habits that decrease the likelihood of interruptions? Yes. Recognizing all this, let’s return to where we left off.
So, our prayers are interrupted for one reason or another and we think we cannot come back to where we left off. Sometimes we get angry with the person or situation that interrupted our prayers and then we think we are in no place to pray. So, we chalk up interrupted prayers as wasted prayers.
Rather than frustration and lashing out because we are not doing the holy work of prayer continuously, I would encourage us to consider some freedoms that we have in prayer.
First of all, no prayer is wasted. Fragmented or complete, prayer is not wasted. God hears all, no matter how jagged, interrupted or cut short. Secondly, prayers can “be continued”. In a necessary interruption, attend to what is needed, then come back to where you were. If you can’t remember, just ask God and keep going. Third, prayers get deeper even with interruptions. You do not have to “start over”. Prayer is a continuous conversation with a real relationship. If my conversation with my husband had to constantly start over and never got deeper with interruptions then we would never grow in intimacy, love and friendship!
Life is full of interruptions … and so is prayer. The next time this happens, I encourage you to continue with the conversation, continue in prayer. Consider the freedoms listed above. Take a break if you need to, don’t quit praying and return where you left off.