The habit you need this fall –
Hey y’all – I’m dropping in on the blog today (I know, you thought I forgot I had one) to share a few quick thoughts on prayer, including some helpful habits I’ve had for years, and also some recent changes I’ve made to my prayer life. It’s the start of a new season and the perfect opportunity to embrace and adopt some new habits so I hope some of mine can inspire and help you with your own.
I want you to know that I believe deeply in the power of prayer. It doesn’t follow that my prayer life has always been reflective of that belief. It’s funny how we can know something to be right and good and true, and still not prioritize it or pursue it. See also, healthy eating and saving/spending money wisely. But I digress…
Here are some rules and habits I’ve adopted over the years to grow and sustain my prayer life:
- Never say, “I’ll pray for you.” Several years back, I made a rule for myself, my staff, and our church leadership team that we would not use the phrase, “I’ll pray for you.” It’s way too easy to forget or simply not follow through on that statement. Instead, in any situation where we would be tempted to use that phrase, I challenged myself and everyone else to pray with the person right then and there. Has this led to some awkward moments? Absolutely. I’ve prayed with people in parking lots and bathrooms and hallways and in the middle of crowded rooms where I had to shout directly in their ear for them to hear the prayer. Have we seen God show up and use it again and again? For sure. Stop saying you will pray and just do it. And, yes, you CAN pray out loud – I promise it will be okay.
- “Have the prayer life now that you want your kids to have someday.” ~Kevin Queen, pastor of Crosspoint Church in Nashville I heard Kevin say that on a podcast several months ago and it changed the way I pray in terms of honesty, consistency, and urgency. I’ve struggled, particularly in this season of having younger kids, with finding and maintaining a consistent prayer time that doesn’t get shoved aside and lost in the chaos. I’ve blamed time and season, but it’s been me all along. I simply needed to decide and remember that it’s a priority in the same way I want my kids to prioritize their time and relationship with God as they grow older. Now I block an hour every morning for prayer and I keep it. At first, it felt like a lot of time. Now, it often feels like not enough and I keep going past an hour, but I never take the time away. And truthfully, I haven’t missed a beat in productivity. If anything, I get more done because my head is on straight after spending time with God. And I’m honest, so honest I need to find a way to make sure my prayer journals burn and disappear completely should anything ever happen to me. 🙂
- Write it down. Speaking of prayer journals burning, I started writing down prayers in various forms in middle school and high school. I haven’t always kept up with praying that way, but I’ve picked it up again in recent years and I think it helps me on so many levels. First, it helps me focus so my mind doesn’t wander while I’m praying. Second, it gives me a better lens for seeing God answer prayers. It’s easy to forget the things we’ve prayed about and it’s easy to not acknowledge the things God does. When I write down my prayers, I’m more aware of God responding and I can go back and look weeks and months out and be blown away by the ways God is changing me in the process. Side note, by writing my prayers I don’t necessarily mean with a pen or complete sentences. Most of the time, I use the Evernote app and bullet points.
- Pick a focus for each day. This is a fun tip I picked up from a woman several years ahead of me in life. She told me she started when her kids were little and prayed specifically for each one of them on a different day. That didn’t mean she didn’t or couldn’t pray for the others on all of the other days, but she focused on specific days. I loved the idea and ran with it. For me, it breaks down like this – on Mondays I focus on Clark (my husband), on Tuesdays I focus on our church and my staff because those are our meeting days, on Wednesdays I focus on our oldest son, Thursdays I focus on our youngest son, and Fridays I focus on me. Saturdays tend to be a catch all and Sundays I’m praying for our worship gathering and the message I’m sharing. As a fun aside, by doing this and writing down prayers, I’m thinking at some point I will collect all of the prayers I have prayed for my boys and give them a copy.
That’s it for now. Another day I’ll come back and share more about things like praying with your spouse (which is a 1000% game-changer) and praying those super honest prayers I mentioned.
Regardless of how you pray – just pray. God wants to hear from you, and we get to go to Him with all of the things.