Does Prayer Count If it’s on Your To-do List?

Yesterday I was driving down the highway to work thinking about the things on my to-do list.  It didn’t seem that everything would fit into the hours before me, so I turned on the classical music station and started praying.  Not for God’s guidance in prioritizing my time, but because this was one of the items I needed to finish.

Maybe it would have been better to wait until I got to campus, shut my office door, and quietly prayed.  But I was already running late for a weekly Bible study with students and the rest of my day was scheduled.  So there I was praying on I-75.

But does this really count?  I wasn’t in the quiet of a church or felt particularly drawn by God’s spirit. I didn’t feel especially holy.  But I was praying.  Remembering students I’ve talked with over the past week, reflecting on the Bible passage I read in the morning, and being honest about my own failings – like praying at that moment in order to cross out an item on my task list.  And then when it’s crossed off, is that it for the day?

Some days that is the extent of my intentional praying as I get so wrapped up in other activities.  But many times, because it is on my task list, I will make a point to pray between student meetings.  Every so often I even shut my door and pray the hours or just take time to be silent.

As I read the biblical admonitions to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thess. 5:17) and to ‘seek God’s face’ (Psalm 105) – images of a calm and focused prayer life enter my mind.  A life in which I make time to engage with God throughout the day without having to be prodded to remember.  However, that’s not reality for me at this time.  Thus, prayer remains on the list so it can remain on my mind.


Categories: Campus Ministry | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Does Prayer Count If it’s on Your To-do List?

  1. Rebecca

    I’ve never thought of prayer as quiet time. True, that’s often how it is offered to us in group settings: quiet time, contemplative time. But my prayers are conversation, and praying without ceasing in my life looks much more like the sort of relationships young people these days conduct through their phones. Their friends are always handy, and updated about whether the bus is late, whether the wind is chilly, how worried they are about the test they’re about to take. They share jokes, pass on pictures of things they find funny. I haven’t learned to do that with my phone, with other human beings. But that’s how I’ve always prayed, even before cell phones were common.

    If I tell a friend I’m worried about my uncle’s latest cancer, odds are I’ve said the same thing to God, in just as conversational a way, possibly even out loud. And it is my impression that God answers me in the same way. The world offers me responses, timely and clever. Just like friends do.

    It isn’t very regimented. I think the only times I dedicate myself to periods of intentional quiet contemplation where I watch my thoughts and focus them on saying certain things to God are when I am feeling emotionally distraught and need a good conversation about my feelings. And I end up confessing a long series of sins and resolving to improve myself, pretty much no matter what I was upset about.

    All this is to say that much is made of the obligation to pray, and while I’m sure some people do it very seldom, I want to affirm that putting it on a list is a fine way to do it. Everything else goes on the list! It’s how you organize your thought life and your work life and your relational life. And God is, in some sense, just another relationship.

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