Lord, A Little Help… Please

Sometimes the cycle seems endless, the routine of another day pressing in upon my hope and joy like some gigantic cosmic weight. I wake up tired, wishing for just another 15 minutes more sleep. I stumble through my morning ritual, preparing myself for a job I don’t always like. Shave. Shower. Eat breakfast. 40 minute drive to work. 8-10 hours pushing paperwork at my desk. I used to be all about “saving the world.” Now? Now, I’m all about “saving our customers a few dollars.” The same turkey breast sandwich at lunch… day after day after day. Another 40 minutes to get back home. If I’m lucky, I get about 3 hours with my family each night. I eat diner. Hit the treadmill. Shower. Again. By that point it’s bedtime. I drop into bed exhausted both physically and mentally. I wake up tired…

Running through all the routine is an undertow of adversity and trials that we call “life.” Granted, I am blessed. I understand that it could be a lot worse. But there are those days when the weight of it all bares down so heavily. My wife’s recent bout with cancer. My own recurring illnesses. My son’s autism. My daughter’s struggles at school (she dropped out because she was being bullied). Financial responsibilities. The press of returning to college at the age of 45. In time it becomes part of the routine. The challenges of living in a sin-fallen world become the backdrop against which I perform on this one man stage. Honestly? It just becomes exhausting after a while. I feel tired. I feel frustrated. I feel angry. I feel disappointed. I feel discouraged. And in it all, I look up to heaven and ask God, “Just a little help, please?”

At times like this I am reminded of a singular verse located in the book of Mark:

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.

If you read the larger context, you realize that Jesus had been up very late the previous night. The Bible says the entire city had gathered at the place where He was staying. Throughout the night He ministered to the sick and demon-possessed. It was a long night. It was an exhausting night. And how does Jesus respond?  Well, He doesn’t use the previous night of ministry as an excuse. No sleeping in. No hitting the snooze button. No turning off the alarm, waiting until the last possible minute, and then dashing out the door. Nope. Early the next morning (while it was still dark) He heads to the place of prayer.

The honest truth is that much of my “struggle” can be attributed to my lack of prayer. Far too often I allow myself to become so busy, so preoccupied with other things that I manage to leave prayer out of the daily equation of life. And I wonder why life is so hard??? Think about it. Just look at Jesus. Prayer was one of the essential pillars of His life. Throughout the Gospels we find Him praying. Praying in the morning. Praying when faced with crucial decisions. Praying throughout the night. Praying with His disciples. Praying for His disciples. Jesus was all about prayer. So, if the very Son of God felt such a great need to pray, who am I to think that I can somehow make it on my own? Am I truly that foolish as to think that I in my own broken humanity can survive in my own strength?

The first step in cultivating a meaningful prayer life is to admit my need for prayer. I am destined for failure and struggle as long as I remain convinced that I can make it without prayer. Sure, in my head I know I need to pray. But my actual practice says otherwise. I make time for Facebook. I make time for the treadmill. I make time for TV. I make time for… whatever. If it’s important, I can always make time. So, the honest truth? It’s not that I don’t have time to pray. That’s not the problem. The real problem is me. I would rather struggle than actually take (or make) the time to ask God for help. And so, I am asking God for a change of heart. Lord, open my eyes to see my true need. The problem is not the routine. You are more than willing to help. I just need to take time to start asking.