Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Jump Start Your Prayer Life in 4 Simple Steps

Once upon a time, I considered myself a prayer warrior. That is, until I met a real prayer warrior - but we’ll save that story for another post.  My point here: I used to be very disciplined in prayer. I spent time before the throne of grace every day, if not several times a day, and made involvement in corporate prayer groups a high priority. I could pray Scripture without even thinking about it. I saw my prayers answered and believed, without a doubt, that when I listened for God’s nudges and promptings in prayer, He responded. 

That was then.  Now things are different. My prayer life is stalled and needs a jump start.

I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and it’s anointing, not to mention the peace, direction, counsel, discernment, and yes even joy that comes through prayer. I have seen first-hand the incredible comfort and other blessings of prayer, yet right now I’m really struggling in it. I’d love to tell you I don’t have time for prayer. But the truth is, we make time for that which is most important to us. We all have time for anything we’d like to do - if it’s a high enough priority. 

It’s not the amount of time that I have (I have exactly the same number of hours in a week as everyone else in the world), but it’s how I utilize that time. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that any time I have a change or even the smallest disruption in my schedule, my routines suffer. Even the simple act of rescheduling a weekly staff meeting from a morning to an afternoon will throw a wrench in my gears. I know - sad, but true. 

Over the years, I’ve experienced countless changes to my schedule as I’m sure you have too. I’ve noticed that with each change, my prayer life has suffered and little by little, my prayer routine has become nearly non-existent. I still shoot the “prayer arrows” heavenward - the short requests that come up during the day.  However, meaningful prayer is much more than that. It involves time of praising God for Who He is, thanking Him for all He provides and chooses to give, and confessing my daily sins to Him in order to stand in the Holy place cleansed and prepared for service. That’s the part of my prayer life that has diminished so terribly.

I need a jump start.  Perhaps you need a jump start too, and my hope is that this post will provide some very practical helps for both of us.  It’s time to take action. It’s time to establish a new routine and get back on our knees for some regular and intimate time with God Almighty.  

For the last two weeks, I’ve used some newly implemented tools which are helping me re-establish a pattern of prayer.  New practices and resources are often helpful. Here are 4 simple ways I’m jump starting my prayer life:

1. A new prayer journal. 

This is what mine looks like:

It’s a small 3-ring binder that I had on hand. (I used to keep my task list in this notebook until I switched to an electronic version (Nozbe) which I am completely nuts about.) I like the 3-ring binder because it allows me to add and rearranges pages as needed. 

Inside the binder are 11 dividers, labeled:

On the divider for each day of the week, I have penciled in categories for which I’d like to pray on that day. 

Please hear me here. I pray as the Lord directs and intercede for whatever He places on my heart. If a friend asks me to pray for her grandma and I see that I’m not “scheduled” to pray for friends until Monday, I certainly do not let the schedule stop me from lifting up pressing needs.  The schedule merely helps me to not get “stuck” praying for only those needs I see and prompts me to pray for some “bigger picture” things. It’s a tool, not a law.

Here’s my proposed schedule:

Monday: Family, friends, relationships
Tuesday: My husband’s workplace, Strengthened by the Word Ministries
Wednesday: My church and church family
Thursday: The women I meet through ministry and women’s ministry needs
Friday: Our community, state and nation
Saturday: Pastors and Spiritual leaders
Sunday: Personal needs, preparation for the week ahead, strength, direction, creativity, integrity, etc. 

Each day, I jot down some of the things I’ve prayed for and how I believe the Lord is prompting.  This helps me remember what I’ve asked and to give thanks for His answers. Often we forget we’ve even prayed a thing and neglect to give Him glory when an answer arrives!

2) Write More.

When we write (on paper with a pen or pencil and not on an electronic device), it helps us slow down and focus on what we’re recording. I truly consider His attributes when I write them longhand. I feel more passionate about prayer needs when I’ve carefully scribed them into my notebook. Thoughts and needs are impressed more firmly on our minds and we’re less apt to forget if we’ve written it by hand.

This one of the primary reasons I’ve created this prayer journal as a notebook and not as a computer file. I find I’m more purposeful and less rushed with pen in hand. Plus, I get to change the color of my ink whenever I’d like - a small detail that keeps me in a happy place.

3) Speak More.

I’m attempting to create a habit of praying out loud - with my voice - even when I’m alone. I know, it sounds a little silly, but it keeps my to-do list from clouding my thoughts. Talking out loud to the Lord helps keep my mind focused on Him.

Once I’ve spent several minutes praising, thanking, confessing (okay - that stays silent most of the time) and interceding, my heart is fixed on the Lord and I can then close my mouth and listen. I have prepared my heart to receive any prompting He may choose to offer. For me, such promptings often come as creative thoughts, or fresh ideas that I know didn’t generate in my own mind. They’re usually the “best idea” I’ll have all day - for obvious reasons.

4) Pray With Others.

If you’re married, you should be spending time in prayer with your spouse. There’s little that says “I love you” more than hearing your husband (or your wife) petition the Lord on your behalf. Mike’s prayers are so soothing I sometimes fall asleep to them (he’s learned that they bring me great peace and doesn’t take offense).  

Mike didn’t always feel comfortable praying together. That’s something you may need to grow into as a couple, but I (we) highly recommend it. It’s worth the work and practice.

Our church has a weekly prayer service. Does yours?  Attend! I’m working to re-prioritize this weekly meeting and attend more faithfully. I love gathering with other believers to hear their hearts, praise the Lord alongside them, and receive their caring prayer coverage. 

Moms in Prayer is a wonderful ministry. There are groups for every age of child, including adults!

Oswald Chambers is credited with saying, “Prayer is an act of will.”  Once we’re well-established in the practice of prayer, it may begin to come more easily. Until then, it’s work. Let’s not neglect it since it’s commanded in Scripture. 

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18 (HCSB)

Your Turn:

What tools do you use to support your prayer ministry?

Have you ever experienced a stalled prayer life? How did you overcome?

Do you feel these 4 steps might be helpful to you?

Leave a comment below or continue the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word
Psalm 119:28


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