Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. –Philippians 4:6
When I started my prayer journey, I did not want to pray.
“Dear God, help me want to pray,” I pleaded. Prayer was tiring. I felt like I was doing lots of talking, and wasn’t getting anywhere. I impatiently waited, listening for answers, and yet my prayers never seemed to be given answers. What’s more, making room in my schedule to intentionally spend time with the Lord felt near impossible with all the other responsibilities that were piling up on my to do list.
Because I felt like my prayers were a futile effort, my prayer life was naturally inconsistent. I prayed less when life was filled with sunshine, and I prayed more when sunny days turned to overcast, stormy seasons. And while I could better acknowledge my need to depend on God during hardships, I still did not feel a strong desire to spend time in prayer, at least not a strong enough desire to keep me praying when the clouds broke and the sun began to shine again.
During one of these aforementioned stormy seasons, a Cornerstone student and I were discussing prayer. She explained that she viewed prayer as a conversation, similar to the modern day experience of texting. Think of someone–perhaps a close friend, family member or significant other–with whom you remain in close contact. You and this other person may text sporadically throughout the day, as if having an ongoing conversation that may not ever distinctly end. Likewise, prayer is an open invitation to talk to God about anything and everything that is on your heart and mind. Jesus wants to listen, much like a close friend does. And as both a friend and a Savior, he is always available. In fact, He has already sent the first text, and is excited to hear a response from you.
After listening to this story, my prayer life did not immediately improve. The seasons of my life continued, mainly overcast with occasional sunny days and inconsistent prayer, until another storm began to brew. And when I was once again reminded of my need for full dependence and trust in God, somehow, at some point, God answered my prayer–I wanted to pray.
Although I now have a desire to pray, I don’t always feel like praying. Prayer still takes time and effort, and I cannot say that I know the answers to my prayers. But I do know that God is good, present and moving–in any and all seasons of my life. All I can do is have faith in Him, trusting that His will is better than mine, believing that He has a good plan for me and thanking Him for how He is already answering my prayers according to His will. Only through prayer can we ever experience such inexplicable peace when we give him our doubts, fears and worries.
Get practical about prayer:
1 // Silence distractions… put your phone on silent and place it out of sight. Perhaps that means in your backpack next to you, across the room or in the next room over–whatever it takes to keep you from the temptation of getting distracted.
2 // Establish a routine… start very small (like 5 minutes), and come to God in prayer for this small chunk of time at the same time of every day. Make it a time when you can’t really justify skipping it, like 5 minutes of prayer before you go to bed each night. You will experience wonderful benefits to your relationship with God just by implementing this brief, consistent prayer time.
3 // Write your prayers… try jotting down prayers in a journal as little letters to God. Writing helps your mind process thoughts and emotions, and you can look back on these prayers to see how the Lord has answered them.
4 // Pray the Psalms… Anytime you aren’t really sure what to pray, know that God understands fully even a distressed moan to Him, but also know that there is a whole book of prayers in the Bible–the Psalms. These song-prayers to God function largely as blueprints for our own prayers. Try praying through a Psalm (maybe start with Psalm 23) and inserting yourself into it.
--Taylor Siegfried Serves on Cornerstone Leadership