My wife likes to chide me by saying that my brain has its own jukebox. She says I remember every song I ever hear. While that’s stretching it a bit, I do have a knack for remembering songs, and they do tend to pop into my head often, sometimes because something triggers a memory of a lyric or a song title, sometimes for no known reason.
This morning was one such time. I had a song in my head, and I don’t know why or what prompted me to be singing/humming it to myself as I went about my morning routine of feeding our cat and preparing my breakfast. The song was Daniel Whittle’s hymn from the late 19th century, Christ Liveth In Me. As I said, I was singing these songs in my head (I have been known to belt out a tune now and then, but not usually first thing in the morning when my children are still in bed!), and as I sat down with my waffles and coffee I stopped singing so I could pray. Suddenly in struck me that I was, for all intents and purposes, praying already. True, I had not bowed my head or folded my hands, I had not started with “Dear God” or “Dear Heavenly Father.” Yet my heart and mind were already worshiping through the song, and, in essence, praying to the Lord while praising Him. After all, the simplest definition of prayer is talking to God. Whittle’s hymn contains this first verse and chorus:
Once far from God and dead in sin,
No light my heart could see;
But in God’s Word the light I found,
Now Christ liveth in me.
Christ liveth in me,
Christ liveth in me,
Oh! what a salvation this,
That Christ liveth in me.
What else could I be doing while singing such a song but talking to God, thanking Him for His love, His forgiveness and His gift of salvation?
Paul wrote one of those easy-to-remember verses in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” Obviously no one can constantly be praying. We have many responsibilities and activities that consume our time and attention, and it is not possible to be constantly talking to God. Paul’s point, of course, is to be always in an attitude of prayer, always ready to talk to God. Talking to God should come easily and even, eventually, naturally as we grow in our relationship with Him. It isn’t necessary to close our eyes, be in any certain location, or assume any special position. We can pray anytime, anywhere.
Praying before meals, of course, is a good thing, and it makes sense to specifically give thanks for and ask blessing upon the food that is about to be received. But sometimes–like I did this morning–we may get caught up in the habit and ritual of saying a pre-meal prayer and forget all about the very point of praying.