I am not a prayer warrior.
There, I said it. I’m not a prayer warrior. I avoid praying in public whenever possible. I don’t say “I’ll pray for you” because I know it’s a lie. I tend to rely on prayers of desperation. I use prayer as a band-aid. I don’t pray. Corrie ten Boom’s question challenges me:
I am loathe to admit it, but prayer has been my spare tire.
Before you judge me, I think you should know that I am judging myself. I have spent my adult life thankful for my Savior, trying to follow His lead, staying active in church…and not talking consistently to the One who I serve.
Now, hear me say: I have been keenly aware of my shortcoming but unfortunately I haven’t cared. I haven’t cared that I don’t earnestly seek Him for direction. I haven’t relied on Him for sustenance. I haven’t leaned into His wisdom for my life.
Over the past few months, I have grown increasingly ashamed of my failure. Bolstered by my resolve to read through the Bible this year (I use this app!), I have been intentional in Scripture but not as intentional in prayer.
Planning for a Stronger Prayer Life
Wanting more than just prayers of desperation and a blessing at the beginning of the meal, I set a four-week plan for myself. I call it my self-prescribed road map to a stronger prayer life, a way to intentionally and methodically strengthen my conversation with my God.
Filled with Scripture and intention, my plan relied upon my Bible reading app (A Lamp Unto) and the daily pen-and-paper writing of my prayers, a physical reminder of God’s answered prayer and His kindness to me.
1. Prayers of Praise.
Take an attribute of God or a Scripture of praise and pray it in praise to the Lord daily.
2. Praying Scripture.
Take a Scripture from each day’s Bible reading and pray through it and into my life.
3. Praying for others.
Pray specifically and deliberately through my circle — husband, immediate family, extended family, friends, coworkers, clients.
4. Praying for my day.
Bolstered by the month’s intentionality, pray with specificity into each day in the morning and then pray a prayer of thanksgiving each evening.
Living a Stronger Prayer Life
I started my month of prayer overwhelmed by the project. Writing one or two lines, struggling to find words, stilted at best. But. Being thankful was a good place to start because almost every passage I read has some reference to who God is and praising our Lord for His awesomeness is priceless.
Praying Scripture proved harder than it appeared, especially operating on the self-imposed condition that I use whatever passage my app assigns for the day. (Hellooooo Malachi.) But using principles I read to pray into my day and burdens? I was so encouraged! Being intentional as I read, searching for what truths to pray? God’s Word really is powerful.
Starting week two was also hard because Monday morning was already rushed, the new goal was harder, and the process required more thought than my brain wanted to muster. In the future, I would want to try switching goals in the middle of a week.
I found myself especially floundering on the third day of the second week. Hitting an obsession with an unchangeable detail of my day, I started a cycle of fear and worry. However, armed with my desire to speak Scripture into my life, I was able to pray into my fears and watch God take away the anxiety…and now I have that journey in writing for remembrance sake.
My favorite week was this one of intentionally, specifically praying over my friends and family. A sacrificial act (it’s 5:30am, after all!), it helped me be less self-focused and more others-focused. I tend to ignore my selfishness (it’s uncomfortable to acknowledge!) but when face-to-face with the reality and combating it actively, I am glad to be actively moving outside of myself.
By far the hardest week, week four was compounded by the struggle of a super busy week. A hectic schedule meant that I was praying at sporadic times and without as much uninterrupted focus. I didn’t apply the theory that “I don’t have time not to pray” that Martin Luther suggested and that backfired. However, on the days when I did manage to intentionally pray into the day, I was encouraged to see the specific prayers answered. Little reminders that God is active in my life and wants me to talk to him.
Moving into week five (and beyond!), I will still aim to write my prayers as an active way of praying and as an record of God’s activity in my life. I won’t be as disciplined and regimented, but I think I will still use these four types of prayers as the foundation for my time of talking to God.
The Lessons I Learned from Four Weeks of Intentional Prayer
My month of intentional prayer showcased how much I need to continue to pray. As I sought Him each day (2 Chronicles 7:14) and boldly approached the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16), I sensed His guidance and knew His peace. The benefits to my life were tangible and the foundation of my relationship with Christ was strengthened.
As I continue to pray, my hope is to always use Scripture, to be as specific as possible, to write down my prayers (so I can document His answers!), and to actively pray daily. A strong prayer life doesn’t just happen, so I will continue to work at it. One day at a time, one prayer at a time, I will pray.
“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all. Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.”