When Pastor Keith began his message this week, he informed the church of how God spoke to him to preach on Psalm 91, despite the message he already had planned out. I’m taking a similar approach with this week’s column.

I started writing on Psalm 91 as a whole; however, I kept going back to something Pastor Keith said: “Stop running to God when you need him – you can’t know Him if you don’t spend time with him.” As someone who resided into this category for a long time, it really weighed on my heart to focus on this particular subject.

For years, I considered myself a “good Christian.” However my prayer life was anything but Christian like. As someone who struggled with fear, nervousness and failure, I always played the “what if” game in my mind. When times got really tough, I turned to God in prayer. I was thankful for the blessings God provided me – but my prayer life centered on wants and needs, instead of building a faithful relationship with Him.  I would actually make deals with Him!  “God, if you do this, I promise I will do that.” This is a great example of what can happen when you’re not in the Word and have a blurred vision of who God is.

A desire to spend time with God is connected to an accurate perspective on who He is. I did not truly know Him – how could I? I rarely spent time in the Word, and only called on Him when it benefited me. My prayers came from want not love- there was no authenticity behind them.

In addition to praying for selfish reasons, I prayed because I felt I had to in order to please Him. Again, it comes back to the deal making and the unclear understanding of Him I had.  When we see God as a record keeper instead of the loving father he really is, spending time with Him becomes a chore. My prayer life was the equivalent of checking off boxes on a to-do list. Ultimately, I was trying to earn salvation, hoping to prove to God that I loved Him and was deserving of things.

When we view God as anything less than who He is, our desire to spend time with Him dwindles. Before you know it, there is no relationship.

Without time alone with God, needs will be unmet – I say this from spending far too many years of not being truly connected. Had I not got in the Word, I may still be in that very position. The more I got in the Word and better understanding I gained of His greatness, the more my life began to change in a positive way. I’m proud to say my prayer life today, although not perfect, is based off of an intimate, genuine relationship with the Father. I pray because I want to– not out of need or fear. I pray expecting. God gives us abundant life!

If you’re struggling with your prayer life, it’s ok. Start with reading one verse. Ask God about it, seek him!  God yearns for us to cry out to Him. He wants a personal relationship with us!  If you’re reading this and are aware you should be spending more time with Him, He’s already working on you.

Did you know Jesus actually instructed us to pray alone to God in the Bible?

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. – Matthew 6:6

In the daily struggle to balance the different areas of life, why is it that almost everything else wins out over spending time with God?  Don’t put God on the back-burner – make Him a priority and watch your life transform.