How to Love Your Prayer Life- Victorious Living Resources Part Four
February 26, 2020
The Modern Pilgrim’s Progress #8 – Pilgrim stops praying like a Pharisee
I glanced at the clock, feeling guilty for doing so. 6:15? It’s only 6:15?!? I thought I prayed at least a half hour. Fifteen minutes? Forty-five minutes to go to complete my prescribed hour of prayer. I don’t know how much God enjoyed me hunkering down with a stoic, “Let’s just get through this,” attitude. Probably about as much as my husband does when he’s trying to help me with a computer glitch, and I say that out loud.
My pastor’s Sunday sermon focused on prayer. That’s when he reminded me of a prayer method I turned into a legalistic mess years ago. In Matthew 26:40. Jesus asks the disciples in Gethsemane, “Could you not tarry with me for one hour?” This plan breaks the Lord’s prayer into phrases and explains them in depth. It easily fills an hour with meaningful praise, confession and supplication.
I determined NOT to be the kind of disciple whom Jesus rebuked in the garden for sleeping. I twisted the teaching into a bar I decided I must scale every day. Obligation replaced conversation. I can’t fault the method. The blame belonged to me.
When and how did I learn to love prayer time? How did I change it from a check on my spiritual to-do list? How did it become meaningful conversation and warfare?
When I became 100% authentic with God.
I often enter prayer time eagerly. I know God listens, he cares and desires to move on my behalf. Then there’s the days when I struggle to quiet myself, focus, listen and speak authentically. God already knows the contents of my heart those days. What changed is that I started to acknowledge them. My prayers became more honest.
“God, you know I’m struggling to sit still right now, with all there is to do…”
“God, my mind is far away and filled with other things…”
“Father, I’m so broken I don’t have much to say…”
But then, I started finishing those thoughts with things like:
“… but would you please quiet me down?”
“…so, I need your help to renew my mind.”
“…but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.”
When I stopped lashing myself to the idea that I needed to use the same couple patterns of prayer every day.
Prayer is conversation. Talking and listening. Do all your conversations with your closest human friend follow the same pattern? Do you always talk for the same length of time? I’m not knocking prayer models and pattens. I use many of them. That’s my secret. Many.
Too often we lock ourselves into one way of speaking with God. If we don’t hit that bar, we think it doesn’t count as prayer. My daughter has four children 11 years old and under. Most days, our conversations are strictly texts. Sometimes we nail a phone call. Regularly, we get together face to face. On the texting-only days, we wish to chat leisurely on the phone like we used to, but we still treasure our communication.
I love to talk with God when I walk Bella, our LabraBeagle, in the early morning. Yesterday, no dog-distracting wildlife about. I praised God using the ABC method. Find a character quality for each letter and speak it. “God, you are amazing, you are beautiful, creative…. and so on. It challenges your brain to come up with words you might not commonly use to praise him.
This morning, a bunny convention broke up right before Bella and I set out and they were all headed home. I barely managed a “Thank you God for another day.” Instead I sang some praise songs with numerous interruptions.
I encourage you to acquire several different prayer patterns that vary in length, style and content. Give the Holy Spirit some fresh material to work with. He’s our helper in all things, including our prayer life.
When I started keeping a record of requests and answers.
If you don’t keep track of God’s movements, you miss out. I used to pray about stuff and then completely forget about it. I didn’t write many requests down. Therefore, I couldn’t check back to see how God moved in that situation. I also didn’t thank him for answering prayers, because I didn’t notice, unless it was inside my closest circle of people.
I created my own prayer pages to suit my needs. It’s simply a page divided into four fat columns labeled “Requests, Scripture, Insights, Answers.” You could also keep your record digitally. I write and date the request and try to find an accompanying scripture to stand on. Then, if thoughts or insights come concerning that matter, I write them down also.
Looking over situations where God changes, restores or resolves something for you is a faith builder and makes your prayers bolder.
When I designated a spot in my house as my praying place.
My spot is a great leather chair in the living room. Hiding under it are my prayer notebook and various books like Stormie Omartian’s “The Power of a Praying Wife.” My piano is next to the chair so sometimes I drift over there for some worship. Many days, I use my phone and headphones to connect with a power song.
The chair is special now. I like to picture Christ waiting for me there each morning, like the word picture in the short booklet, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” (Link below) There’s tear stains and a few ink spots on the leather. Just like any battlefield, it shows the signs of the warfare that happens there.
Find a spot where you can be quiet with God. It might be your bedroom or a closet. My friend with six children used to hide out in her bathroom. Pick a place and be consistent. You manage to get dressed and eat every day. You can do this! God doesn’t much care where you show up if you show up.
What’s one step you can take today to bring more joy to your prayer life? Please share your thoughts in the comment section here on the blog, or on the Pastor’s Feisty Wife Facebook page, linked below.
Link for “My Heart, Christ’s Home” https://www.usna.edu/Navigators/_files/documents/MHCH.pdf