What if you're too tired to pray?
I typically have an extended time of prayer and Bible reading in the morning before I do anything else (between an hour and an hour and a half is normal for the first prayer time of the day). How well does a prayer habit work when you're exhausted? This morning I experienced God in a most unexpected way.
I woke up so tired that I didn’t feel I could think clearly enough to connect with God. I was groggy after having a particularly hard workout yesterday and then not getting enough sleep to recover. I half-stumbled downstairs, made coffee for Susan and tea for me, and settled into my chair. With great effort I began morning prayers from the Book of Common Prayer. I drifted through the opening verse and mechanically walked through the confession of sins. (This is how the BCP begins daily prayers, and I think it is a sound approach.) I was rolling up my sleeves in prayer, but I wasn't exactly "feeling it."
Then I remembered something I had read last night in a book about prayer: “strain does not seem to do good" (Frank Laubach, Letters from a Modern Mystic, p. 25). So I decided to stop straining and simply ask God, "If you are in all things, what do you want to do in the midst of this grogginess?" Lo and behold, an entirely new idea popped into my head. I thought about how God is the God of tired people all over the world. People who can barely keep their eyes open. People who are depressed and drained. People who have burned the candle at both ends. People who have insomnia. People with chronic fatigue syndrome. People who lack adequate shelter to keep them warm and dry. People who live on the streets and haven’t slept well for days. God is the God of all those people, and I was given the privilege of praying for them right then. It is a good God we worship!
I got inspired: "So I’m tired this morning. Very well. Then let me be a priest of all the Tireds! [A priest is someone who offers worship on behalf of other people.] Let me offer up praise and worship on the behalf of the Tireds. Let me lift up their drooping hearts to the living God." And so I prayed happily for the next few minutes. I was still tired, but I suddenly felt more alive.
This change of perspective from me-and-my-problems to others-with-similar-problems was a God-given miracle. It made me wonder how many other times we wallow in our problems, whine because we have problems, and don't allow God to use us in the midst of our problems. What if instead of slipping into the futility of self-pity, we allowed God to use us as priests and priestesses for those with similar problems?
If you are one of the Tireds today, you were prayed for. Now will you pay it forward and be a priest or priestess for all the other Tireds?