At the beginning of this year I challenged our congregation to make an intentional effort to grow in the disciplines of prayer, community, and hospitality. The reason why is two-fold. First, these three habits have a tremendous ability to awaken dormant spirituality. They are life-giving and energizing acts that make us feel more connected to God, God’s will, God’s people, and God’s love for people. Second, I believe these three classic characteristics of the church are a relevant means for impacting people today with the love and gospel of Christ because they help Christ-followers display the sincerity of their love for Christ and others.
The response from our congregation to this challenge has been great, and it has been so fun to see the creativity of folks being unleashed for the glory of God.
Today, I thought I would share how I have been seeking to grow in my prayer life this year in the hopes that it might help some who are trying to do the same.
1. I have been praying about my frustrations and for the people who frustrate me. I have a preaching friend of mine who was unceremoniously let go from his position by his elders. Over coffee one day, I asked him how he was handling the broken relationship with his elders. He said, “Every time they do something that makes it harder to love them, I pray that much harder for them because I know that’s what Jesus would want me to do.” Wow! That response inspired me so much. I too want to be Christ-like in how I handle difficulties and difficult people, so I bring them to God through prayer.
2. I have been praying through the Psalms. This exercise has added variety to my prayer life and provided words to express certain things to God that I didn’t know how to describe.
3. I “prayer-bomb” people. When I’m driving and see someone walking on the sidewalk I pray a prayer of blessing for that person. The other day I was eating my lunch in a park – and praying for the people who were exercising, reading a book, and playing with their kids. After I get my purchases from the cashier, I say a prayer for that person as I’m walking to my truck. It’s been a fun thing for me to do, and it helps me see people the way God sees them.
4. I pray “breath prayers.” These are prayers that you can say in one breath. When I’m inspired to I will say one of these quick prayers to remind myself that I belong to God and am grateful for God. Here are some examples of “breath prayers”: (a) “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3:3); (b) “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness” (Psalm 5:8); (c) “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1); (d) “Dear God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (traditional).
5. I pray boldly for the will of God to be done in my life and for me to do the will of God. I am done with half-hearted, weak-kneed prayers. I am through praying as if I don’t know if God hears me or not. I know God hears me. I know God cares for me. I know God is at work in my life. So I have started praying boldly to the One I am certain of about the things I am unsure of.
What is helping you grow in prayer?