Teaching on spiritual disciplines this month. Taught on prayer in a round a bout way last night with the senior high students.
While I was preparing for the lesson I made an effort to think about the normal human struggle with duplicity or hypocrisy. We had talked the week before about how we can be one person in school and another person at home, or it seems that there are two people in us, one wanting to behave this way and another wanting to behave another way (i.e. one wants to treat all friends with respect but the other wants to be accepted by certain friends who disrespect people). And often what we don't want to do, we do, or what we do want to do, we don't (see Paul in chapter 7 of his letter to the Romans on this...he's got some great thoughts). So, in the lesson we talked about how God wanted to make us one, to make us whole and complete, not wishy-washy.
As I was thinking about how to tie this to prayer, I thought about how often when we give in to that which we don't desire, we have an afterthought. It's like, "dang, I wish I didn't do that. I should have asked God for help." Or something like that. Kind of like what Adam experienced in the Garden after the fruit.
So, I was thinking that if we think of God after we are already in our harrowing situations, in our trying circumstances, then it is too late. But what if he was our first thought every day. Would that change anything? I think it would set the tone for the day. It would be a centering type of thing...
But I am not sure that the first thought is where we want to stay. Paul talks about praying continually (1 Thes. 5:16-17). Maybe God wants us to move from after-thought to first-thought to every-thought. Maybe that is a way of looking at the growth we experience in God.
I know there are monks who pray the Jesus Prayer in the attempt to make God their first thought before anything. They talk about how God transforms their hearts and actions through saying that prayer.