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Bill Hybels tells the story of a man in his church who came to him and said, “When I was a new believer, the thought of talking with the God of the universe, the thought of him listening to me, responding to my cares and concerns, was so overwhelming I could barely take it in. I prayed all the time when I first discovered I could. I prayed when I got up. I prayed on my way to work. I prayed when I sat at my desk. I prayed at lunch. I prayed with my kids at dinner. I prayed with my kids when I put them to bed. I was a praying monster. It brought me such joy. God was answering my prayers. My life was changing, and I could see others’ lives changing. Then, I don’t know what happened. The whole deal just cooled off. I don’t pray much any more.” He lost his consistency. He was no longer persistent.


That happens sometimes. And it is not necessarily a sign of losing out spiritually. Part of it is the ebb and flow of life. Both in times of feeling very close to God and in times of danger we often pray like crazy. It feels like it is constant, and then the crisis, either good or bad, ends and we go back to life as normal. Prayer does not seem as pressing.


I remember taking a youth group on a canoe trip to Canada. We began paddling across a beautiful wilderness lake in Algonquin Provincial Park. We could see the clouds rolling in, but we had no idea what it would be like on the lake in just a few minutes. With fifteen of us in canoes, and most of the kids were inexperienced, we were in danger as the storm moved in and the waves began to crash over the front of our canoes and swamp them. We were getting separated, but I called for everyone to come together and keep heading into the waves to keep from getting rolled over. I began taking the extra paddles and lashing the canoes together to form a raft. Once we were secure, we began to bale the canoes as those in the back tried to keep us headed into the waves. It was very tense, and I can assure you that all of us were praying every minute. We needed help and we knew it. We were in danger. But the next day the sun came out and we went swimming and played in the water around our camp site. We didn’t think about praying so much. We were no longer praying fervently, repeatedly, hopefully and desperately. We were not as aware of our need of God — even though our need of God was just as great.

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