If I could tailor lyrics from "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" to be the theme song of my life, it would go like this:
“In Central New Jersey I was born and raised,
on the beach is where I spent most summer days.
Layin’ out, tannin’, relaxin all cool
And swimmin’ in the ocean, cause I don’t need a pool”
Right now, however, I’m stranded in the landlocked state of Minnesota, while I live vicariously through my best friend Laura’s Snaps of the shore. It was during one of my lamenting-over-missing-the-beach sessions that I realized something:
Prayer is a Day at The Beach
The funny thing about the beach is that some days you go and it ends up being the worst. On those crappy days, it’s hard to remember why you love the beach in the first place - the same goes for prayer. As someone who knows all too well how hard the summertime can be on your prayer life, I figured we could benefit from being reminded of these simple truths about prayer in order to keep us going back for more.
1. Sunburn Turns into Tan
Let’s be honest, sunburns hurt like nobody’s business. That being said, there are times when I have gone to prayer and painful parts of my life come to light, stinging and lingering just like a sunburn. Why should I continue praying if I’m just going to be burned and reminded of the pain in my life? Well, once the pain heals and the redness subsides you’ll find your skin has more color than before. Even if you’re as pale as me and the change is slight, you’ve still come through to find you’ve been changed. In the same way, Christ is working through the pain we experience in prayer to not only heal us, but to change us into better versions of ourselves and give us a spiritual tan.
2. The Tide is Always Changing
Sometimes the ocean is calm, and sometimes it has choppy waves. The tide is always changing, so you’re guaranteed a different experience each time you go to the beach. Prayer is the same. You will never go to prayer and experience the same thing twice. Sometimes you’ll be filled with distractions that make your prayer choppy, but other times you’ll experience a great calming peace. Don’t let the rough tides prevent you from going back to experience the peaceful ones.
3. Overcast Days Get the Most Rays
As any Jersey beachgoer knows: the overcast days, when you can’t see or feel the sun, are the days in which your skin is most affected by the sun’s rays. So even if you can’t see or feel the Lord in every moment you go to prayer, know that He is still there. His Holy Spirit is working to change your heart with His grace, even if you don’t realize it in the moment. As it says in the Psalms, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18), how could He not be with you when you call upon Him in prayer?
Going Back for More
No matter how many times I’ve gone to the beach and had a crappy time, I always find myself taking the hour long journey down to the Shore time and time again; because despite how hard, painful, or annoying it may be sometimes, those moments when it's not, make it worthwhile.
So, no matter how many times I don’t enjoy my prayer time and feel as though I’m getting nothing out of it, I’ll keep striving to go back for more, because prayer is always worth it. And, to be honest, there is nothing more enjoyable than rocking a good Jesus tan.
Maybe you're hitting a midsummer slump, struggling with prayer now that you're outside a school-year routine and don’t have a community helping to hold you accountable. Just remember, a good day at the beach is worth all the bad ones that preceded it; so don’t give up.
On the flip side, maybe you're enjoying a glorious day at the beach in your prayer right now. In that case, I encourage you to remember it well. When the tides change, I’m sure your future self will thank you for the reminder of the goods times that lay both behind and before you.
Above everything, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus”