Reminders: Is There Grass on Your Path?
by Ardith Hoff
In one region of Africa, the first converts to Christianity were very diligent about praying. The believers each had their own special place outside the village where they went to pray in solitude. The villagers reached these prayer places by using their own private footpaths. When grass began to grow over one of these trails, it was evident that the person to whom it belonged was not praying very much. Because these new Christians were concerned for each other's spiritual welfare, a unique custom sprang up. When noticing an overgrown “prayer path,” he or she would go to the person and lovingly warn, “Friend, there's grass on your path!”––Our Daily Bread, November 18, 1996
In this country we don’t have a way to monitor another’s prayer life. Even if we did, we wouldn’t think it is any of our business how often people pray. Prayer should be between an individual and God. The only “prayer path” we should monitor is our own.
Some people have prayer routines. They might pray upon waking, at certain times during the day and before they go to sleep. Some people might only pray when they feel a need for God’s presence in their lives. Some people only pray in church, and some never pray at all. The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “Pray without ceasing.” That is hard for most people to imagine. It seems impossible because we need to concentrate on what we are doing.
Linguists would tell you that the word translated as “without ceasing” means continuously not continually. The difference is that continuous means often or regularly whereas continual means without stopping.
We can be in an attitude of prayerfulness while doing other things. It’s like walking and chewing gum at the same time. We need to watch where we are going, but we don’t need to be consciously aware of the chewing motion to keep chewing gum. Even if we pause to swallow, from time to time, we are still chewing gum. That is not to trivialize the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian. It is just to explain that we can be open to God’s leading while doing other things.