The late theologian and educator Henri J. Nouwen said about prayer, "As we are involved in unceasing thinking, so we are called to unceasing prayer."
I've noticed that a lot of people believe in prayer, but they don't always believe in praying. For them, prayer is like a spare tire. They keep it in the trunk of their automobile and don't think about it most of the time. But it's there if they need it. When they have a flat tire they turn to the spare to get them through the emergency.
It's a bit like the soldier in a foxhole: bombs were bursting all around and he prayed, "Lord, I haven't bothered you in twenty years. Get me out of this alive and I promise not to bother you for another twenty!" He figured he'd use his spare tire about once every couple of decades or so.
But I've noticed, too, that prayer for some other people is less like a spare tire and more like a road map. It is not something tucked away in small compartment and rarely used. Instead, it stays open and spread out on the car seat. Or is prominently display in a GPS system. It is used constantly. These people understand how necessary a road map is if they are to ever get where they want to go. For them, prayer isn't just for emergency use, but it guides them through the intricacies of life.
I know that people of many faiths practice various forms of prayer. But I like thinking of it more as a road map than a spare tire. A road map can make a difference every day.
-- Steve Goodier
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