I don't know how it is for others, but I know that when I get tired it's hard to focus in prayer. I'd rather keep things short and simple and get my sleep, knowing that I can think and pray more clearly after I'm more rested. I mean, that makes sense right??
However, God's been giving me a paradigm shift in regards to prayer. But first, He had to remind me that it's ok to get tired…Let me share what I mean.
It's interesting the different misconceptions that sometimes altar our way of thinking. One misconception, that I didn't even realize I had, has been how I've perceived my exhaustion from hours spent in ministry or work. I will have a beautiful time with God in prayer and study in the morning, and then throughout the day as I work or minister to others, I'll find myself growing weary…depending on the task, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. The cycle repeats itself again and again. Often, after intense periods of ministry (whether a weekend speaking event, a mission trip, running the program for an ARME Bible Camp, or some other large task) I'll find myself nearing exhaustion and I'll have to collapse for a day or two. At those times my family will tell me, "You really need to slow down and not work so hard. You're going to kill yourself!" And then, sometimes I'll find myself thinking, "If I was really filled with the Holy Spirit, I shouldn't be getting so tired or weary during times of ministry? What is wrong? What am I missing?"
Just this past week I was reading in the book The Mount of Blessings and here's a paragraph that jumped out at me.
"Jesus days were passed in ministry to the crowds that pressed upon Him, and in unveiling the treacherous sophistry of the rabbis, and this incessant labor often left Him so utterly wearied that His mother and brothers, and even His disciples, had feared that His life would be sacrificed." p. 102
Wow - I guess I knew this, but I had forgotten. Even Jesus got weary….He grew tired. Just like me! Even Jesus family thought He was going to kill himself from over work. (Obviously He worked a LOT harder than I ever will!) But He kept going, He kept working, He kept ministering to others with a supernatural strength. What was His secret??
It's the secret we should know well...
The passage continues. "But as He returned from the hours of prayer that closed the toilsome day, they [the disciples] marked the look of peace upon His face, the sense of refreshment that seemed to pervade His presence. It was from hours spent with God that He came forth, morning by morning, to bring the light of Heaven to men. The disciples had come to connect His hours of prayer with the power of His words and works….and their hearts were awed and humbled."
As I read, my heart was awed and humbled as well. And it was so encouraging for me to be reminded…that maybe I'm not off course after all. I just need to keep walking, but also keep going back to the source of living water for new filling. For I am a leaky vessel…a very leaky vessel!
And then the paradigm shift began...
"Jesus was often found in prayer. He resorted to the lonely groves or to the mountains to make His requests known to His Father. When the business and cares of the day were ended, and the weary were seeking rest, Jesus devoted the time to prayer.
We would not discourage prayer, for there is far too little praying and watching thereunto. And there is still less praying with the Spirit and the understanding also. Fervent and effectual prayer is always in place, and will never weary. Such prayer interests and refreshes all who have a love for devotion…. If Christians would take home the teachings of Christ in regard to watching and praying, they would become more intelligent in their worship of God." Counsels for the Church, p. 293
You see, the difference between us and Jesus is, when we get tired…we go rest. We go to bed, we stop working, we stop serving others and focus on ourselves! We take a break! However, when Jesus got tired, He went to pray… Oh what a powerful lesson and reminder of what we must do when we grow weary. Instead of turning inward to focus on ourselves, instead of pausing our service for others…we need to pause and take time to pray - not just quick survival prayers…but take the hours with Him we need until we are filled and refreshed once again.
One final passage that I think is very fitting here…
"Let us turn aside from the dusty, heated thoroughfares of life to rest in the shadow of Christ’s love, and learn from Him the lesson of quiet trust. Not a pause for a moment in His presence, but personal contact with Christ, to sit down in companionship with Him,—this is our need. Many, even in their seasons of devotion, fail of receiving the blessing of real communion with God. They are in too great haste. With hurried steps they press through the circle of Christ’s loving presence, pausing perhaps a moment within the sacred precincts, but not waiting for counsel. They have no time to remain with the divine Teacher. With their burdens they return to their work. These workers can never attain the highest success until they learn the secret of strength. They must give themselves time to think, to pray, to wait upon God for a renewal of physical, mental, and spiritual power. They need the uplifting of His Spirit. Receiving this, they will be quickened by fresh life. The wearied frame and tired brain will be refreshed, and the burdened heart will be lightened and encouraged." Signs of the Times, July 6, 1904, par. 6-7
Some of us may be too tired to pray…but really, we should be too tired NOT to pray. And thus we will grow more like our Lord and Savior every day…refreshed and ready to take on whatever comes our way!