It’s Harder than it Looks

Eric Raymond at Ordinary Pastor says, “A Secret Life of Prayer Will Prevent a Secret Life of Sin.”  He’s right, and it’s a decent article.  The only thing I would add is that it’s harder than it looks.  I’ve been telling myself for years that, since the Army makes me get up so early, I would have to find time for my devotions in the evening, but the truth is, I don’t.  I have a hard time winding down enough to go to bed at night.  Do you think I’m able to add prayer and Bible reading into that process?

My solution the last few  years has been a combination of trying to squeeze my devotions into odd crannies of the day, failing, and making up excuses.  A few months ago, in our home group, a fellow soldier said she thought she might have to just start getting up that much earlier, in order to get it in. I agreed, and with much prayer (on the part of other people), I’ve started getting up at 4:30 the last two days.  So far, it’s only been Bible study.  I haven’t even yet got a solution for prayer.

It sounds Herculean, but the truth is that the sleep is the same.  I was already staying up late, but unable to do anything productive with the late hours.  But jumping that hurdle was harder than it looked.  I couldn’t have done it a year ago.

Frankly, I couldn’t have done it this year, without the faithful encouragement of friends at church, who knew about my frustrations because I whined about them.  Which brings up another point.  You make progress in these areas by talking about them.  It’s really helpful, I think, to try to bring up the subject of the means of grace in your conversation with people.  God pours out His grace in innumerable unknown and mysterious ways, but more often than not, most of what He does, He does through ordinary, established means – prayer, bible study, conversation, church attendance.

The prayers should be in secret, but the life needs to be in public. These things can fall to the wayside for lack of just talking about them, particularly because we want them to be easy.


It’s what I do best:

It’s really disconcerting for me when I say something funny and people actually laugh. It feels like I’m being singled out and made much of for just speaking my mind. In my family growing up, ironic wit was just how people talked. It feels really bald and unguarded to say something straight out, so that’s something I would normally only reserve for lecturing or careful argument. Normal conversation is made gentle by layered meaning and ironic inversion.

So, growing up, if you said something terribly clever, you might get a nice chuckle. Scaling down from there, the next level might be a funny face. Otherwise, pleasant conversation consists entirely of wit, irony, and anecdote, sprinkled liberally with quick analytical jabs. Poor shots, of course, merit an eye roll. And then we go on.