THSC Review - August 2013 * Volume 17, Issue 3 - page 29

Without Ceasing
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• 29
hen I was a young girl
growing up in the
Texas Panhandle, I spent many late summer afternoons with
my brothers, fishing and daydreaming on the banks of a small playa lake
near our home. If the fish were not biting, my brothers would often
skip rocks across the surface of the water. Each bounce of those stones
would send dozens of tiny ripples rolling across that little lake. My rocks
usually hit the water with a splash and sank quickly to the bottom, set-
ting larger waves in motion.
As parents we sometimes feel like that stone that hits the surface
and plummets quickly to the bottom, unable to skip along the top for
even a moment like the others around us. We have all had those days
that seem to unravel before they even begin. Sometimes it can feel as
though our whole week—or even our whole year—has unraveled, and
we wonder what we are even doing. Our children sin, we sin, circum-
stances beyond our control disrupt our lives, the bottom falls out
of our perfect world, and everything seems to come apart at
the seams. In desperation we fall to our knees, either men-
tally or literally, and we pray.
So often a desperate prayer seems to be a last re-
sort as we plead for strength and mercy when all of
life seems to be falling apart—but do we stay there on
our knees when circumstances do not change and life
continues to crumble? Do we stay there when things do
change and the sun once more begins to shine? Is prayer
still the first place we turn when the sun is shining, when
there is money in the bank, and when our children are good
and obedient?
When it comes to parenting, most parents quickly realize that the
most difficult and the most important aspect of parenting—whether
it involves schedules, chores, discipline, or any other aspect of parent-
ing—is consistency. Schedules are easier to keep if they do not change,
chores and even lessons are easier to learn if parents are consistent in
the way they teach and review, and rules are more apt to be kept if the
consequences for breaking them are always the same—every time.
Relationships also require consistency if they are to thrive and flour-
ish, and this is true of our relationship with God. Are we really consistent
when it comes to prayer? We may pray at every meal and with our chil-
dren before they go to bed, but do we
pray? Is there a difference? Of course, earnest, pleading prayer may right-
ly be the cry of our hearts when our worlds are crumbling, and when all
is well we may still pray for our children every day as a matter of habit,
but are these the steady prayers that build our relationship with God?
I recently listened to a sermon on prayer by Tim Keller in which he
quoted Eugene Peterson’s book on the Psalms,
Answering God
. Peterson
said, “We have to realize what the Psalms are teaching us about prayer is
that all true prayer pursued far enough results in praise.”
Prayer pursued
far enough
. . . That phrase seemed to etch itself into my spirit, and I have
thought long and hard about it. I wonder how often I truly pursue prayer
into praise. My heart testifies to the truth that when we praise our heavy
hearts are lightened, our anxieties exchanged for peace, our priorities
redirected, and our hearts expanded to make room for joy, content-
ment, and tranquility. Praise deepens our relationships with God and
with others. Praise promotes change regardless of our circumstances.
Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.”
I think Steven Curtis Chapman best describes the continual pursuit of
prayer in his song “Let Us Pray” as he sings, “Everywhere and every way,
every moment of the day, it is the right time.” I think “everywhere and
every way” may be an accurate description of continual prayer. We need
to—and should—pray those pleading cries for help when our world is
broken. We need those repentant, tearful prayers for grace
when we have stumbled; we need to speak those anxious
prayers for direction when we are lost and uncertain; we
need to spend time on our knees in intercessory prayer
for our children, family, and friends—and the Lord is
still honored when we remember Him before we eat
and sleep.
As home school parents, we are the first and most
influential examples our children have of a Christian
walk, and although they may not often see us pray, our
prayer lives flow out from our hearts in all directions like
ripples on a pond. They are the waves that lengthen and
broaden our lives when we are sinking, and they are the rip-
ples that dance in all directions when we are skipping. So let us
pray without ceasing, everywhere and every way; and in the midst of all
these prayers, I hope we remember Peterson’s words and pursue our
prayers into praise. Praise promotes peace, and all of us, especially busy
home school moms who continually juggle the difficulties and pleasures
of educating their children, need that peace that passes all understand-
ing. A heart that continually communes with God in prayer, pursuing it to
praise, will be like those stones that skip joyfully across the top, seeming
to defy the fact that they are merely rocks.
Sheila Campbell began home schooling in 1991 and continued
home schooling as a single parent after the death of her
husband in 2001. She was also the parent of a special
needs child, whom she cared for at home until his death
in 2004. Now that her children have all graduated, Sheila
pursues her writing, after years of being a valued member
of the THSC staff. She resides in Hale Center and invites
you to visit her blog a
Sheila Campbell
Relationships also
require consistency if
they are to thrive and
flourish, and this is
true of our relationship
with God.
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