By Marcia Lee Laycock
When I first became a Christian prayer was something I knew very little about. It was what I did on those rare occasions when I thought I needed something from God (like the time I fell off a cliff and screamed, “God, help me,” as I flew through the air). I’ve been a Christian for over thirty years now and sometimes, I’m ashamed to admit, I still use prayer that way. It’s easy to slip into the “genie” method. Give me this, God, and I’ll give you that; I need this God, and you promised to help me, right? Yes, God wants us to ask, but I’m pretty sure he’d prefer it if we got to know Him a little as well.
I confess I have fallen back into that ‘genie’ method at times in praying about my writing career. That’s why I like to remember a boy named Mouse.
I met him not long after becoming a Christian, way back in 1985, sitting in a theatre watching a movie called Ladyhawke. It was a touching love story of mythic proportions, full of medieval scenery, chivalrous knights and beautiful horses. The cinematography was stunning and the characters captured my heart.
But I still think of Ladyhawke as the movie that taught me to pray. Just a few days before, I had come across these verses in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I was especially struck by the phrase, “pray continually.” I was wondering what that meant exactly, what it would be like to do that. Then I watched Ladyhawke and met that boy named Mouse. They called him Mouse because of his ability to get in and out of places through small holes. You see Mouse was a thief.
The movie opens with him escaping through the sewer system of a medieval prison. As he is quite literally worming his way through the pipes he prays and bargains with God. He promises that if God gets him out, he’ll never steal again. He ends up in a river – yes, God gets him out – but it isn’t long before he breaks his promise by stealing a man’s money pouch, apologizing to God as he does so. We follow Mouse as he continues to find a way to survive.
And all that time, he is talking to God.
And that’s how I learned what “pray continually,” or “without ceasing,” as the King James version says, really means. God was so real to Mouse that he conversed with him about everything, as though He were walking beside him, traveling with him every moment of the day, even as he continued to get into trouble and out again.
I don’t recommend bargaining with God, or apologizing to Him as you disobey Him. But it was Mouse’s sustained faith in God that impressed me. Even though he was a rather unrepentant thief, his belief in a very real God who could and would help him in spite of all his failings, stirred my heart.
So I began to try to practice what Mouse taught me.
I began to talk to Jesus as though he were standing beside me every moment of the day, not just to ask Him for something, but just to talk. Like Mouse, there have even been times when I’ve had to be careful that I wasn’t talking out loud, lest someone think I was a brick or two short of a full load.
That practice, teamed with the other parts of that verse, being thankful and rejoicing always, has brought God close, shown me such stunning answers to prayer that I could barely breath and taught me that Mouse was right. Jesus hears you as clearly as someone who is walking beside you. He will stay with you, even when you fail continually.
That practice keeps me from falling into the ‘genie’ method. Having a conversation with the Lord about my writing takes me deeper, makes me more thankful and willing to rejoice than a million whiney prayers that just ask Him to bless my career.
It’s a practice worth taking the time to develop. For this is God’s will for us all, in Christ Jesus.
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. Her second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short listed in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards. Marcia also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded here. Visit Marcia’s Website