Spring Break 1995 two friends and myself pack up a small car built for 4 people loaded with backpacks, extra clothes, and enough food to survive on for 5 days and drive 9.5 hours from Berea, OH to Bryson City, NC to spend 5 days in the Back Country of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Once we get to the parking area, we all climb out of this little car grab our packs and hit the trail head. The first day we spent walking along a mountain stream. There’s something to know about mountain streams especially in the Great Smoky Mountains, in March, they aren’t typical streams that lazily meander along, they are basically small white-water rapids and are REALLY noisy. All the snow from the winter is starting to melt and that water has to go someplace and that’s how these streams are fed. They are so noisy that it’s hard to really talk to each other when you are right next to them. So, we walked basically in silence not talking to each other till we made camp that night.
The next day, we packed up camp and started a climb that none of us were expecting. The trail that we thought was going take us up to the divide wasn’t your normal trail. We basically had to scramble up the side of the mountain on our hands and feet. It was not an easy climb; however, it was worth the work.
Once we got to the top, we had some amazing views and we realized something else. When we were talking to each other, even though we were about 50 yards apart, we were actually yelling. It was amazing just how quiet it was.
I don’t think that we realize just how noisy our lives are. There are so many different ways that we distract ourselves and create all the extra noise in our lives, from Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, Snap Chat, and any other social media things that you can think about. Then we tack on any extracurricular activities that we have, school sports, club sports, school clubs, hanging out with our friends. These things are all extra noise in our lives. We spend a lot of time trying to communicate with other people, because we want people to know what is going on, but how much time do we spend in a conversation with God?
I am pretty sure God doesn’t have a social media account, but I do know that God wants to communicate with us daily. So where is God in our daily conversations? Are we updating Him on what is happening in our lives? Are we asking Him for advice when we need it? Are we praying? Do we even know what prayer is?
Here’s the simple answer to the question of what is prayer: it’s a conversation with God. It doesn’t have to be something complex. St. Therese of Lisieux said “For me prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
Think about that quote for a minute. It answers a very important question: What should we talk to God about? EVERYTHING!!! We have an All-Access pass to the Father through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to worry about wasting God’s time because He is outside of time, He created it. Not only that, He wants to know what is going on with us and in our lives. God wants to have an intimate relationship with us.
I am sure we can all agree that we do not spend near enough time in prayer. So how do we pray? How do we cut out the noise and make the time to spend with God?
Prayer can look very different for different people, but Jesus shows us what perfect prayer looks like. Think about that statement for a second, Jesus models what perfect prayer is. My personal favorite is when Jesus prayed he often went off by Himself and many times it was up a mountain and I can understand why. It’s quiet. When we were walking along the divide, we realized just how quiet the mountain can be.
Think about how you pray right now. Do you have a regular time or do you only pray when you need something? Like maybe just before a test, because you screwed up and don’t want to get in trouble or maybe because there is someone you really like and want them to like you too?
However you pray, or if you are just starting to pray, it takes time to get good at it and build that relationship. Consider your best friend. Where you best friends from the moment you met? Probably not, but after spending more and more time with them and getting to know them, that relationship developed into something deeper. Over time, trust developed and now you can probably tell them anything without worrying that they will tell anyone else. That is what our prayer life is like with God, IT TAKES TIME, don’t get discouraged. The best way I have found in developing my prayer life is to add it to my calendar. I block off at least an hour a week and I have it labeled “Meeting with the Boss.” So, if someone asks for that block of my time, I can honestly say I can’t meet with them and we can look for another block of time. You just have to find what works for you.
When we pray, we are forming a faithful loving relationship with God. Just as in any relationship, there will be times when we are doing great and then there will be times when we realize, wow, I haven’t prayed in days. No matter what, we will always be God’s children. He understands that there will be tough times, like having to scramble up the side of a mountain on your hands and knees because you weren’t expecting such a hard climb. Push through that climb, God will be waiting there for you whether you are on top of a mountain or on your knees beside your bed.