How often do we need to pray? What does prayer look like? How can I know I’m doing it right? Often, the interesting aspect of beginning seminary life is not the amount of security you find, but the lack of depth you uncover.
It was during my first semester, finals week quickly approaching, that I discovered a lack of prayer. How could I be so blind? I was reading the books. I was writing the papers. I was learning more and more about the God I love. Why was I so incredibly stressed out? The answer came in the midst of me having a mini-panic attack. Now, I’m normally a pretty relaxed guy. It takes a lot to get me from relaxing to worrying, but I had found my breaking point. I had found the end of my rope.
I didn’t want to admit that I was slowly drifting away from God. I didn’t want to admit that I left my quiet time months ago. The same excuses drifted into my mind. I needed to focus on school. I needed to learn more. I was now a seminary student. My relationship with God was supposed to come easy. I wanted to believe I was growing closer to God, when in fact, I had turned away from him.
During my meltdown, my wife sat with me and helped me see the truth. I was learning about God, but I was not learning with him. I was trading other’s words and experiences for my own. I was trading the warmth of his presence for the chill of my mind.
I can already see you reading this and laughing, “Come on! Everyone knows this stuff.”
Honestly, I would have probably said the same thing. I knew that I needed to pray. I knew that I needed to talk and walk with God, but I still faltered. So, either I had lied to myself and believed in a truth that I actually did not hold to, or I simply stumbled. Of course, I would love to sit here and say that it was the latter, but I think it was actually a mixture of both.
My mind is a jumble of mess most of the time. Trying to understand why I do things can come across as a nightmare for the logical thinker. It often is not black and white. Sometimes, as Paul would attest to, I do the things I know I shouldn’t do.
So why am I saying all this? Why am I proving the point that I stumbled in my prayer life and that I don’t really know the whole reason? I’m saying all this to point back to the beauty of Christ. You may not understand why you suddenly fell back into sin. You may not understand why you are having a hard time getting up in the morning and opening up the word. All that being said, there is one thing that is understandable: God calls us to come. We don’t have to sit and try and figure out the reasoning behind our failures. God calls us to come.
The fact of the matter is, God doesn’t give us all the answers. Often he merely says, “Come here and trust me.” I went through a hard time my first semester in seminary, but it was beautiful. During those times, I felt my heart ache for God. My heart didn’t ache for good grades, or completion of papers. My heart ached for his presence.
I know it seems simple, but most of the time we don’t need deep theological truths to bring us back to Christ. Most of the time, we need the gentle reminder that Christ is enough. Most of the time, we need a simple word that will guide our heart back to our true love.
I want to leave you with a verse God has laid on my heart.
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
This is a verse I look at when I pray. Wherever you are in your walk right now, seek him. Your surroundings often have a way of quieting the voice of the Holy Spirit. Distance yourself from distractions and approach the wonders of the cross.
Be active in prayer. Be steadfast in prayer. Be in prayer.
By Timothy Sudolcan Timothy currently lives in Fort Worth, TX with his wife Melissa. He is working on his M.Div. at Southwestern Seminary. After Seminary, he plans on pursuing a ministry position while also writing fiction books. Be sure to check out his blog at Onaclodus, and follow his adventure.