The blessing of dog walking as a quiet time has always been good for me. No phones, email, or disturbance and time to consider and remember all that is going on or in need of prayer. There is always a lot going on to fill my mind and that continues once the leads are back on their hook’s, and the hounds under my desk for a snooze. However prayer should not be an endless list of our requests; there should be that time of listening.
I am reading a prayer book at the moment and it’s been popular since it came out. I saw two articles on the book and was struck by its tone. The writer is interesting, honest and when you know anything about his back catalogue of work and thought you think ‘WHO WROTE THIS!!!!’ It is warm, intelligent, real, humorous and brief. And for anyone who feels their prayer life has become jaded it’s a wonderful place to start an upgrade. Now I know for some of you if you clap eyes on these pages you may think, ‘ My; that boy’s shallow;’ or easily impressed, but others will read of a faith that really means something and has a very healthy conversation going on with God. It may also invite us to have a healthy conversation in life initiated by God. It should embolden us to address those who live
for themselves; or have given up; or give challenge to those who are who are hijacking our faith or opinions.
I am reminded of the story of Jonah after his less than pleasant cruise trying to avoid a preaching appointment at Nineveh. God says ‘its wickedness has come before us’. Bottom line being, something needs to be done and something is going to be done! Being the Old Testament book of Jonah, God is quite direct with the workforce of the day. No surprise then that taking a ship to Tarshish is not a great plan. Jonah’s need of prayer rises somewhat when he finds himself in the next mode of transport at the end of chapter one. But God’s instruction doesn’t change. ‘Go to Nineveh and proclaim the message I have given you’. Jonah is not impressed with the replacement big fish service, so he gets praying.
All those nice prayers and the job is still waiting for Jonah.
Eventually Jonah takes the hint and gives them a real pulpit thumping sermon. Jonah is not impressed when he actually finds a gathering, who hear every word and respond completely. He wanted to see them made toast, he moans at God for relenting and goes off to sulk. After a couple of days of ‘toasting’ on his own (seechapter four) God speaks and Jonah admits his pain and his Lord unpacks the bigger picture in what is important. It’s an honest encounter that we should keep in mind when we have our quiet time however we do it. It is a discipline to give hope and direction if we have a problem that’s eating away at us. But the answer generally comes from the other end of the line and not what we are usually requesting.
The book I am reading is a lesson in being connected to God in a way that many fail to achieve. It is called ‘A Comedian’s Prayer Book’ and it’s written by Frank Skinner. Yes, that Frank Skinner! It is proof that God works with those who wait on him. Your independent bookshop will be delighted to supply a copy.