Pastor David, today, wrapped up his series on the armor of God. His focus was on Ephesians 6:18: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (KJV). Specifically, he talked about prayer as strategic in battling Satan and his army. Pastor David noted that, according to John 10:10, Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came to this place and died for our sins in order to give us abundant life. Spiritual warfare exists, and prayer is critical for any and all winning, on our part. The more constant our prayers, the better.
I never want to pretend like I have it all together, but I do want to share: over the past few years, my prayer life has improved significantly, albeit slowly. It used to include, mostly, prayer in church, prayer at mealtimes, and prayer at bedtime. But God has placed some true prayer warriors in my path, also made me receptive in learning from their examples.
I suspect "praying always" is challenging for others besides me, so I thought I'd share some things I've learned and ways in which I've grown.
- Instead of writing "I'll pray for you," I try to write out an actual prayer (from Dear Heavenly Father to Amen.) In May 2008, my friend Connie pointed me in the direction of Dr. Ray Pritchard's article "Write a Prayer for a Friend." I wrote a couple prayers and passed the article along to others, and, later, my friend Rachel passed it back, after which time the practice moreso took hold in my life. A written prayer can be saved and reread by both the person for whom I've prayed and me, and the Lord's faithfulness can be checked against my words. Also, if I write out a prayer, I know I've prayed it. (I mean to say: I've been guilty of saying "I'll pray for you" and forgetting to do it.)
- Instead of saying "I'll pray for you," I try to pray with the person, on the spot. I emphasize try because I'm not going to lie: prayer in person doesn't always work out for me; as you and I both know, certain environments can be chaotic. Still, I used to be someone uncomfortable with one-on-one prayer, and I've come a long way: especially over the telephone. My friend Sharon inspired me, last November, to start praying over the telephone, and it's opened some big doors and kindled some special friendships. As with a written prayer, the beauty of a prayer with someone is, in part, knowing I've prayed it.
- Recently, I've been trying to stop/drop what I'm doing and pray with others as soon as a need becomes known. For example, Clementine and I bowed our heads in a mall parking lot, a couple weeks ago, and prayed for some people who'd been in a car accident. Even more recently, I was sitting at my computer when a prayer request came through. I shared the request with Jim and the children, and we all stopped what we were doing and prayed, together, regarding the need. This practice of "stop, drop, and pray" is also very much Sharon-inspired.
- I pray aloud, often, while driving, when my passengers are asleep. The drive goes so quickly when I'm in prayer, and there have been some cute (blessed) moments when one of my passengers has turned out to be awake, after all.
- I pray when I'm awake and don't want to be, but can't sleep for whatever reason. I've discovered that--in the wee hours of the morning--prayer curbs my frustration with an uncomfortable, pregnant body; a sleepless baby; or a restless mind. It helps and relaxes me to know I'm communing with the Lord and, oftentimes, blessing others with time that would feel much less productive, otherwise. (***Note to self: I need to start praying while waiting in line!)
- I've begun praying with my son after addressing behavioral issues. I've found that this practice puts emphasis on Cade's behavior as being reflective of heart issues with which Jesus, who lives in Cade's heart, can help. Also, prayer helps me to end Cade's and my interaction on a positive, loving note.
- I've started praying with Cade before saying goodbye to him for an extended amount of time because this practice contributes to whatever peace I experience both in the moment and, later, while we're apart.
What about you? How do you incorporate prayer into your busy, daily lives?