I’m not an expert on prayer. I attended a conference last year that really inspired me to learn more about prayer, and led to me share the results of that learning in a spiritual disciplines class at our church. Confession: since doing all that learning, I’ve done little doing. I’m really starting to feel how desperately I need to be about the work of prayer, and at just the right time (ahem… God moved and) I came across a set of notes that I prepared for that spiritual disciplines class on prayer. They’re pretty good notes with some challenging and inspiring information, but I had completely forgotten about all of it. Apparently I knew this stuff about prayer. I didn’t do it. This information is hitting me fresh, so I’m sharing it with you in a series of five posts. (You can read more about all of that here.) This information and inspiration about prayer is aggregated from several people and sources that I consider to be credible within this topic. This is not my own knowledge or information. Again, I’m not an expert, really just a curator. Check back over the next several days for the rest of my notes on prayer. (See part 1 of this series here. Oh, and part 2 is here. There’s a part 3, too. It’s here.)
- Set a specific time each day to pray. Tell someone about your commitment, and ask them to hold you accountable. Make this a sacred time for just you and God. No phones, no distractions. It’s a holy time when you come to the secret place. Jealously guard it. Fight to defend that time. It is precious to you. You can (and should) of course pray at other times throughout the day, but it’s important to have a time that’s devoted solely to prayer.
- Set a specific time/place/way to pray with your family. No matter how crazy your family’s schedule is, you can make it a priority to change the world as a family through prayer. Case in point: When Beth Moore’s kids were older and her family’s schedules got too crazy with practices, recitals, business meetings, and extracurricular activities to allow them to all come together at the same time to read a scripture together and pray, she set up an area for family prayer at their hearth. Since she was the first one up each morning, she’d set out a card with a scripture for the day on it and a paper and pen. She spent time with the scripture and praying at the hearth, then she wrote down how the Spirit spoke to her through the scripture and the direction her prayer took. Throughout the day, as each family member could, they came to the hearth and spent time with the scripture and in prayer, writing down their experiences. If two or more family members could come together at the same time, they did. At the end of the day, there was a sweet paper chronicling each family member’s time with God. They all knew what was on the hearts of the others. They all spent time with the same scripture. They may not have been physically together, but they were praying together as a family.
- Posture matters. Your body affects your spirit, and vice versa. It’s important to find a posture that facilitates time spent in the secret place with God. This is not to say that, then, it is not OK to pray while you’re running, running errands in the car, waiting in line, etc., but rather to say that those should not be the only postures in which you pray.
- Write your prayers or write about your prayers. We are so easily distracted, and if we do not constantly remind ourselves that we’re expecting results from prayer, we may just miss those results. Also, it’s encouraging in a dark season to go back and read about moments of light in prayer.
What about you? What have been the most helpful practices or habits that you’ve learned for prayer?