A few years ago I wrote a prayer exercise for a buddy of mine struggling to endure the solitude that prayer demands. I titled it, “Thirty Days to Connect to God’s Heart—a prayer primer.” He told me he wanted more intimacy, and prayer from everything he studied promised to deliver. But he didn’t know how to pray long enough to settle his mind, and prepare to listen. He’s an extrovert, and much of his motivation comes from spending time with others. So, my aim was to help him develop ‘alone-time endurance’ in the prayer closet. My hunch was that if he could build stamina to wait before God, rewards of intimacy and spiritual insight would eventually come. For it’s content I drew from lessons I learned living in Minneapolis, during a time where I sensed God had taken special pains to cultivate my heart to wait in His presence.
It was early on in my ministry life, and I was coming up for air, but getting much too little to make a difference. I was bone weary. That’s when God led me to take a day a month and drive 30 minutes west of Lake Minnetonka to a little speck of academia surrounded by cornfields, St. Paul Bible College. There in a musty library I found my hallowed place; a favorite desk, back by the Spurgeon books, where I would sit for hours on end, reading, studying and praying. God chiseled a cistern during those visits, a well that to this day I draw from for understanding, intimacy and revelation. He dug it out of a lime stone heart, a heart that had no idea what kind of sacrifice it would take to reach students for Christ. A heart that was proud and indecent when exposed, and a heart I knew needed to be changed. It was prayer at long intervals that began to strike the chisel; again and again, and again. Afterwards, God would fill the cistern with Himself. The living waters were heart stabbing and exhilarating all at once.
If there’s one thing I learned in those days of prayer is that it takes longer than I would ever admit to unwind, unpack, and decompress in order to hear the voice of God. When I can wait unhurried in His presence, God can grab my attention. He has more He wants to say than I do.
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