As drought continues to plague California, Los Angeles officials recently released 96 million black plastic balls into water reservoirs. Why? “Shade balls” keep water from evaporating and protect it from contamination by birds and animals. They also block the sun, preventing a chemical reaction that forms bromate, a carcinogenic compound.
Do we need “shade balls” for our souls?
David prayed to God “evening and morning and at noon” (Psalm 55:17). At the risk of his life, Daniel “got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God” (Daniel 6:10). Ten centuries after David, the Jewish people were still following his example (cf. Acts 3:1).
As summer winds down and the rush of fall activities begins, we need an antidote to the “busyness epidemic” of our day. Let me suggest three reasons we should adopt the ancient Jewish rhythm of thrice-daily prayer.
One: we need time and space to hear God’s voice. Oswald Chambers: “The voice of the Spirit is as gentle as a zephyr, so gentle that unless you are living in perfect communion with God, you never hear it. The checks of the Spirit come in the most extraordinarily gentle ways, and if you are not sensitive enough to detect his voice you will quench it, and your personal spiritual life will be impaired.”
Two: others need to hear God’s voice through ours. Human words cannot change human hearts. Our culture needs Christians like this: “Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).
Three: our Father longs for time with his children. Brennan Manning opens The Furious Longing of God with Song of Solomon 7:10, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.” He states, “Christianity happens when men and women experience the reckless, raging confidence that comes from knowing the God of Jesus Christ.” What happens then? “In a significant interior development, you will move from I should pray to I must pray” (his emphasis).
Our culture desperately needs the salt and light Jesus intends us to be. We owe it to others to stay so close to God that he can speak his life-changing truth through us. As conduits of grace and agents of redemption, we will then “shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16). Nothing is as important as this.
John Stott was one of the most esteemed pastors and theologians of the 20th century. I will never forget meeting him—his eyes shone with the joy of the Lord, and his every mannerism exuded the presence of the Spirit. What was the secret to his inspiring intimacy with God? Stott spent an hour a day, a day a week, and a week a year alone with the Lord. And the Spirit used him to inspire generations around the globe.
Would you take time three times today to be alone with your Father? (I recommend www.first15.org as a great spiritual resource.) Would you do the same each day this week? The gifts you receive and share will change your life and world, to the glory of God.