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I am spent.

I have referenced, in several earlier posts, the fact that I have been incredibly busy lately, being assigned a very large and mundane responsibility regarding the international convention for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. For various reasons, I find this project to be nearly a complete waste of time, and any hope that I had in it becoming something worthwhile has been quelled by church politics.

And so I have been plugging away at this project for many long hours, days, and weeks, to the neglect of other possibilities which I actually find productive and meaningful. It has become a large weight which I cannot get out from under. Meaningful work at least leaves you feeling satisfied. This kind of work only leaves you feeling empty.

Of course, I have my usual responsibilities as well: being a husband, father, band and song leader, yard-mower, decision-maker for aspects of home and family life (along with my wife), etc.

The result of this is that I have felt very tired, and very gloomy. I don’t even want to pray, even though I do want to want to pray.  Once in a while, I’ll send up a quick prayer asking for help, for inspiration, for patience, whatever.  Once in a rare while – nothing close to once every minute.

The other day, I was doing something in the kitchen, and my wife was in the living room watching a DVD of Andy Stanley, preparing for the women’s Bible study she leads.  In the background, I heard Andy say something along these lines:

You don’t pray in order to earn brownie points with God.  You pray because it is a crucial part of being a Christian and being Christ-like, and sometimes it is a discipline.

I’ve never fallen for the idea that I can impress God in any way, but as simple as it sounds to be reminded that prayer is sometimes a discipline, in my distracted state, I hadn’t thought about that. I already know this to be true, but I’ve been living more from my heart than from my mind lately.

It struck a chord with me because I recently started going through P90X.  For those of you who don’t catch infomercials, P90X is a very intensive workout program, designed to produce drastic results in 90 days.  It hurts.  It will completely drain you of all energy and leave you very sore.  Because of my workload, I’ve not been able to stick with it every single day until now, and there have been lots of times that I went through the day’s exercises even though I didn’t want to.

This is an obvious no brainer: There will be times when you do not want to pray, and yet prayer is so much more important than your physical health.  There will be times when prayer is not a joyful participation in a relationship with God, but a forced discipline.

It would be very easy to be undisciplined about my physical health, to just chow down on chocolate chip cookies and milk, to sit on the couch all day or at my desk, but giving in to what is easy will lead to an early death.  Doing the sometimes difficult work of watching what I eat, and forcing my body to work hard will lead to greater strength and health.

Sometimes prayer is the spontaneous act of a heart that is close to God.  When we feel spent, broken, and weary, it may feel easy not to pray, but to do so will lead to a slow degeneration of our soul.  At those times, the mind must take over the heart and choose to pray, knowing that eventually, Life will come rushing back.