It seems the theme of 2016 for me has been prayer. My understanding of the power of prayer has grown more than ever. This year more than any other in my life I have felt a gentle pulling on my soul to draw closer to God. I don’t know how your prayer life is but I can admit that at the start of 2016 mine was basically nonexistent. I was heart broken and had suffered a loss that I was fighting to keep from blaming the loss on God and honestly speaking with Him was just not on my list of things to do. Somewhere during the course of the year that changed. God healed my heart and my desire for a deeper relationship with Him began to grow exponentially.
We all long for something more. We all want that deep connection with the Lord and the power of prayer working in our lives. Good news is that that is available to every believer! It's basically a birthright. All we've got to do is steward our hearts and time well. Here are some of my tips for growing and cultivating a deeper prayer life!
1. Pray before your feet hit the floor.
Several months ago the Lord gave my husband this picture of Him waiting eagerly by our bed waiting for us to get up and spend time with Him. I love this image. I love the idea that God just loves being with us and He is watching over us as we sleep and looking forward to the moment we wake. My husband and I are very different people in the morning. He wakes up happy and exciting babbling on and on about how the day before us will be our best yet. Me on the other hand, I wake up far less chipper than him. I usually wake up wanting to beat the chipper right out of him.
It takes discipline for me to wake up in the morning and thank God for another day. It takes effort for me to put into practice the habit of making sure I talk to Him before I climb out of bed. It takes discipline but when I do it my days feel smoother. I feel more at peace. I can tolerate my husband's cheerful morning demeanor. Now there are times I wake up and realize it has been days since I remember to put this into practice. Those are the morning we give ourselves grace and get back to it. Our Father is patiently yet excitedly waiting!
There is so much to be thankful for in the mornings. There are fresh mercies (Lamentations 3:22-23) and an abundance of joy! (Psalm 30:5) This is also a great time to think and pray through the armor of God. Arm yourself before you get out of bed. Thank God that even though we may not know what the day has in store He does and He has equipped us and promised to walk with us through whatever we face!
2. Create a prayer schedule.
I want to be clear that I am not trying to make prayer a religious thing where you map out time each day and then beat yourself up if you miss a session or struggle to get through the amount of time you’ve set. I do believe having a specific time each day that you try to get alone with God is important but God is with you constantly so there is no condemnation for seasons where that is difficult to plan for.
What I mean by creating a prayer schedule is assigning times or days to the things you are praying for. This has made a HUGE difference for me. I sat down and wrote out a schedule for each of the people groups that are important to me so that on specific days of the week I spend time focusing on them and really asking God what to pray for each of them. It's so important because as you begin to see the power of prayer in my life I want to ask God to help them grow and see that power as well.
So on one day I pray for Mike & I’s parents, another day I pray for his siblings and their families and another day I’ll pray for my siblings and their families. I aim to do this for each day of the week. I also pray different things for my husband every day of the week.
DISCLAIMER: There will be times when I realize I haven't touched my prayer schedule in days...maybe even weeks. That is when I give myself grace and I repent (or change the way I think) and make that concentrated prayer time a priority again.
This has made a huge difference for me because I know I am covering those we care about in prayer.
3. Find some way to memorialize answered prayers.
I keep a running log of prayer requests and I keep a log of answered prayers. I also journal regularly so I can remember in detail the things that the Lord is doing in my life. I have seen people keep a box full of all of the prayers God has answered for them and those around them. I have also seen some keep a bulletin board or something along those lines.
In the old testament, there are countless stories of great victories that were memorialized either with an altar, a pile of stones or by naming a well or an area in honor of the occasion. These were things that as people passed by would be noticed and acknowledged as a reminder of the goodness and faithfulness of God.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, "Till now the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12
You have had victories. I am sure there are things that the Lord has brought you through. Build some memorials. Find some way to make a record of them. These things help others as the pass through your life and they also help you while you are in a season of need or challenging circumstances. When life gets difficult you can look back and see that God has always been faithful.
4. Read, read and then read some more.
Keep the Word of God in front of you! Make sure that you are reading your Bible often! Find other creative ways to keep scripture in front of you. We have paintings in every room of our house that have scriptures that are super meaningful to our family so that we can see them often. There is a whole line of scripture prints that I hand lettered that you can pick up in our shop. Set scripture or a biblical affirmation as the background on your phone. Hang memory verses on your mirrors, the wall behind your stove and sink, etc. The more scripture you can ingest the more your hunger for the Word of God will grow.
5. Surround yourself with praying people
I once heard someone ask Priscilla Shirer how to stay fervent. What they meant by that was how do you stay encouraged and excited about prayer. How do you stay pressed into God and what He is saying to you? How do you stay passionate and on fire for the Kingdom? In response to that question, she answered, “Stay around fervent people.”
That is so simple yet so profound. Who are you around? How do the people around you speak? Are you around passionate people? Are they passionate about things that edify and encourage? Do you have people in your life who are super excited about God and His business? Passion is contagious. If the people you are around are super negative it will be difficult for you to be positive. If the people around you are encouraging and optimistic it will be difficult for you to be discouraged and negative.
Your circle matters. Surround yourself with people who are going after the things you are after.
I hope these tips encourage and inspire you to go after a life filled with powerful prayers! Have found that powerful prayers start with ones that seem small and sometimes awkward. You just start talking to God every day and then multiple times throughout the day. Before you know it, it just becomes a habit and a way of life. Next thing you know you are a prayer warrior. You are a child of God who in sync with her Father’s heart and your prayer’s are powerful.
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Be kind this week and live abundantly!