We got to pray just to make it today.
True that, Hammer. True that.
But prayer is hard to fit in and even harder to be consistent with. Here are some basic strategies for getting more prayer into your life:
I’m not saying you need to get up hours ahead of time. If you usually get up at 6:15 a.m., get up at 6:00 a.m. instead. Praying early in the day will do a few things for you:
1. You won’t spend all day thinking, “Ohhh, I’ve got to fit in time to pray today.” Dreading prayer is really not the intended effect here.
2. Your whole day will get off to a good start, and God will be on your mind throughout the day. You’ll make better choices and be more willing to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
3. Since God is on your mind, you’ll be more apt to talk to him at random during the day. You’ll end up getting even more prayer time in simply by talking to him throughout your day. Prayer doesn’t have to be getting down on your knees twice a day and twice a day only. Chat with God. Keep in constant contact with him. “Pray without ceasing,” as Paul would say.
O.K., you’ve got a time down. Now what?
A prayer journal is a marvelous, marvelous thing. Instead of just praying in your head (which is what often leads me to fall asleep), write it all down. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to focus on your prayers when you’re writing them down. The process of sending thoughts down to your pen helps block out the noise of your other thoughts. No, you don't have to be a writer to write in a prayer journal. No one else is going to read it. It’s also a great tool of faith because you can go back and read previous prayers to see how they were answered. You’ll be amazed at how God works. Here are some tips:
1. You can write in any format you want. Mine tends to look like a letter, even with a “Love, Rachel” at the end. Anyone can write a letter. I’m also not opposed to typing into a Word document or blogging on a protected site, if that’s your preferred medium, but don’t let the world read it—you’re not likely to be as honest with God or yourself if you know there’s another audience. I prefer old-fashioned pen and paper myself. Having the pen physically in your hand helps keep your mind focused. You’re less apt to let your thoughts wander, and I have yet to see someone fall asleep in the middle of writing something down.
2. When looking for a prayer journal to write in, don’t get just any old spiral bound thing. Get something awesome. Something that calls to you. A notebook or journal that you just can’t wait to write in. You can even look online and find out how to make interesting covers for composition books. Then when you fill up your book, your cover just moves to the next one. Mine is made out of an old, rainbow-colored silk tie (directions are provided in the appendix). I can’t imagine what man once wore that tie, but it makes my notebook bright and colorful, and I love to look at it. And when I look at it, I feel the urge to write in it. Whether you prefer something stylish and leather bound or a three-ring binder you decorate yourself, get something you can’t resist.
3. Write with a great writing utensil. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one, just one that writes perfectly. You know what I’m talking about. We all have that favorite style, favorite ink color, favorite grippy thing. Gel or ink? Rollerball or felt tip? Pencil or pen? If it’s a pencil, mechanical or wooden? If you find something you like, get a couple of them so you’ll always have one on hand. Find a place to attach it to your journal or keep it near your journal. That way your excuse to God will never be, “I couldn't find a pen.” Worst. Excuse. Ever.
4. Find a place (inside the front cover, the first few pages, etc.) to put prayer requests. I’m terrible at remembering to pray for people (apologies to my friends and family who are reading this), mostly because I just forget what the requests are. You can affix sticky notes to the inside cover and then take them off once the prayer has been answered (or if you need to change it). You can write them down on the first page and cross them out as you go. You can write them on your current page (which is helpful as a date reference to when you started praying for that thing), and then look back each day to see which prayers have been answered and which ones still need your intercession. If you choose to keep an electronic journal, some computers have sticky note widgets for the desktop that are very helpful for keeping track of prayer requests. Don’t forget that once a prayer has been answered, it becomes a praise—God likes to hear those, too!
Excellent! Now you’ve got something amazing to write in and with, and even a few things to write about. Go for it! Oh, wait. We’re lazy. We need more help.
Since tomorrow is Friendly Friday, why don't you spend the weekend getting these things in place? I'll give you a few more helpful hints on Monday.
But whatever you do today and in the coming days, just pray. Find the time. Make the time. You won't be disappointed.