7 Ways to Revolutionize Your Prayer Life

All of us want to pray more. We want to make prayer a higher priority in our lives. We want to spend more time worshiping God and enjoying his presence. We want to be more faithful in our intercession for others. But in spite of our desires and resolutions, most of us find there are just not enough hours in the day to enlarge our prayer lives.

What if I told you it was possible to enlarge your prayer life—considerably—without changing your schedule? What if I said that you might be able to increase the time you spend praying each day by half an hour or an hour? What if I promised a growing prayer life in exchange for just a few minor adjustments to the things you already do on a given day?

It is possible. And not only is it possible, it’s easy—and painless—to revolutionize your spiritual life in the time you already have available. How? Try any of these:

1.Pray while you wait.
I have always hated to wait in line—especially at the grocery store. I would tap my fingers, count the items of the person ahead of me in the express checkout line, browse any magazine or tabloid that happened to be at hand. But not anymore. Now I use time spent waiting—in bank lines, traffic jams, airport terminals, or doctor’s offices—to pray.

2. Pray in the car.
Once upon a time, music, talk radio, or audio books were my constant companions in the car; now God is. I make it a priority to use car trips—whether I’m running a short errand or driving between cities—to draw closer to God and stay faithful in intercession for others. In fact, on a recent cross-state road trip, I surprised myself by praying and worshiping for nearly four hours! Not only did the time pass quickly; more importantly, my prayer life received a major workout.

3. Pray on the phone.
As a small businessman, I spend more time “on hold” and talking to answering machines than I like. Not long ago, however, a routine phone call to the office of a friend changed my prayer life. While on hold, I remembered that I had promised to pray for the friend to whom I was waiting to speak. So I did, and by the time his voice came on the line, I had not only passed the time purposefully, I was also able to tell my friend that I had fulfilled my promise to pray for him. Since that call, I have made a habit of praying for the people on the other end of the line—even people I don’t know—any time I am placed on hold. Sometimes, I will even offer to end conversations with friends in prayer; I’ve yet to be refused.

4. Pray during commercials.
I’ve often heard preachers propose that I shouldn’t be watching television if I’m not “all prayed up.” Well, that’s just fine, except I guess I’m not that disciplined. But I have developed the occasional habit of muting the television during commercial breaks to pray—sometimes for whoever’s on my heart at that moment, sometimes for friends and family members who may be watching the same show, and sometimes even for people I don’t know (such as that show’s actors, writers, and viewers).

5. Pray with “triggers.”
Use “triggers” or reminders to prompt short moments of prayer throughout your day. Author Jan Johnson keeps a candle burning as she works; each time she notices the candle, she breathes a quick prayer. One year I carried a large disc in my pocket; every time I reached into my pocket for change, the disc reminded me to pray for several unbelieving friends. You might employ a specific picture, song, landmark or smell as a trigger to remind you to pray.

6. Pray while exercising.
If you maintain a regular exercise regimen, why not merge it with prayer? You might even consider dividing your workout into prayer periods; for example, you may decide to praise while stretching, confess while warming up, intercede while working out and give thanks and praise while cooling down. After all, “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8, NIV).

7. Pray what you see and hear.
I’ve also tried to cultivate the habit of infusing prayer into as many waking moments as possible, by praying short prayers in response to the world around me. When I hear an ambulance siren, I may utter a brief prayer for the victim; when I see a funeral procession, I pray for the bereaved. When I open a card from a friend, I sometimes pray for the sender. There are times, of course, when I don’t know what to pray, but I’ll still say something like “Lord, please,” or “Lord, have mercy,” and let the Holy Spirit fill in the blanks (Rom. 8:26). These small prayer habits have not made me into a mighty prayer warrior. I won’t be teaching seminars on “Powerful Prayer” anytime soon. But you know what’s funny? As I’ve tried to squeeze more prayer into the odd and mundane moments of my life, I’ve discovered that my prayer life is beginning to take over. Believe it or not, it’s spreading into every area of my life (which I think is what Paul the Apostle probably had in mind when he commanded Christians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17)). And that’s not only changing how I pray; it’s transforming how I live.

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by Bob Hostetler, an award-winning writer, lives in Hamilton, Ohio.

Doing the Unthinkable: Praying for your Enemies

When we consider the wars and rumors of war in our world, we are frustrated, fearful, and frantic about our safety and about the future of our children.

Terrorism has become an ever–present phenomenon, bringing fear and the possibility of destruction. Terrorist attacks have led us to impose new restrictions on our lives and new expectations for the future. It has been difficult to determine who our enemy was and who was an ordinary neighbor.

About a year ago General Linda Bond, international leader of The Salvation Army, instituted a prayer chain for Christians in every country to join in prayer at the same hour each Tuesday. As we met and prayed with this group for the first time, many topics were brought before the Lord—healing for friends and family, protection for Christians who are being persecuted, strength for Christian leaders, power to bring sinners to new life in Christ and guidance for national, state and local leaders.

As I joined the second prayer meeting, the words of Jesus came to mind: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven . . . If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? . . . Be perfect, therefore, as you heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:44-46). Again in Luke 6:27: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you . . . Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

And with added emphasis in Luke 6:36, “But love your enemy, do well to them and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

I caught a vision of the magnificent results of actually seeing our “enemies” being changed by Christ’s power and love. While Jesus is very clear that we should pray for our enemies, open, public prayer for them is rarely or ever offered in gatherings for prayer or worship. Do we dare to envision a better world and pray for our enemies? Can we muster the courage to pray for such things as:
• An end to war
• No more hatred
• Leaders who seek out and actually do God’s will
• Countries that work together to solve common problems
• Common ground among people who seem diametrically opposed?

Along with praying for our enemies comes the strong realization that we must be willing to forgive them. Remember Christ’s response to Peter’s question (Matt. 18:21 ff.) that we must forgive seventy times seven. This is a tremendous challenge, but one we should strive to achieve because “All things are possible to him who believes.” It can only be accomplished through the insight, direction, and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col 3:12-13). One of Christ’s last prayers from the cross was, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

To actually pray for our enemies, we need to be more specific about the actions we, as individuals, want to take, and the role of Christ in them. When Jesus sent His disciples out two–by–two to share the Good News of salvation through faith in Him as the way the truth and the light, He challenged them to face the enemy with strong words: “If strangers do not listen to you, give them every chance, then proclaim that you are no longer responsible for their rejection of Christ” (paraphrase of Luke 9:5).

If only we could be encouraged by Christ’s promise and launch out into a worldwide prayer campaign for our enemies. Then we could be part of a greater unfolding of the perfect, loving, saving will of our Heavenly Father.

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Lt. Colonel Don Arnold lives in Plainfield, Illinois.

 

Did God Care if I Needed Chairs?

“Pray for them, Pauline,” my friend Kathy advised.

“How can I pray for chairs? The Lord has better things to do with His time than to provide dining room chairs for me. He’s all busy running the universe and everything.”

“Just pray,” Kathy added with a smile.

I did pray, and that next weekend, I went to a garage sale and found six chairs that matched my used glass table for $12.

Why did God provide me with chairs? I don’t know. I do know that I was a stay-at-home-mom, with an unbelieving husband, who entertained God’s people often. I needed chairs and didn’t have much money.

I reflected back to my freshman year at Asbury College. My friend prayed about everything. Frankly, I thought it was strange. One night in the dorm, I unexpectedly ran into her in the hallway.

“I thought you were going into town,” I said..

“We were, but we got a flat tire. I prayed about it. The Lord must have known that we should have stayed home.”

“Really,” I said.

Twenty years and several chairs later I’m still puzzled about prayer. I know that prayer works in ways that I never imagined, but I don’t know how.

In Paul Miller’s book, A Praying Life, he describes how we view prayer through the example of his autistic daughter, Kim. He describes how she, like many autistic children, cannot look directly at other people Instead Kim looks sideways to avoid direct eye contact.

He goes on to say it’s the same with prayer. If we look at it directly and try to figure out exactly how it works, we would understand everything and we would be God. Instead, we have to view it from a different angle––the angle of human limitations.

I’ve been thinking about prayer, reading about prayer and praying. I’ve asked the Lord for an intimate relationship with Him, and a major component in our relationship is prayer.

It began with the desire to abide in Christ. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing”. (John 15: 5).

I studied John in Bible Study Fellowship last year and this verse haunted me. How do I abide? Is it through a 15-minute prayer time each day? I didn’t think so. I began to pray about it.

I asked the Lord for His presence in my life all day, not just during my quiet time. “Abiding,” starts with my quiet time. But I can’t stay in my room all day. How that works itself out in my everyday life is an awareness of Jesus. When I have praying eyes, I have His eyes.

I look at the cashier in the grocery store. I smile at her and ask Jesus about her. I ask her about her day and wait for a response.

As I work out in the gym I pray for my trainer and look for opportunities to tell him about the Lord. I ask about his family.

Like Moses in the book of Exodus, I’ve asked the Lord to show me His glory. I want to see His face. My dad is in heaven and sees God’s face now, but it is obscured here on earth. My sin and earth’s curse get in the way. But I yearn to be a woman after God’s own heart.

Many people know my husband. They recognize him in a crowd. They know that he is a hard worker and an amazing fisherman. But they don’t know that a tear sometimes slips down his face when he sees someone hurting. They haven’t listened to him pray and confess his sin and his need for the Lord’s strength. They don’t know his heart.

My desire is to know Christ’s heart like I know my husband,Tom’s heart. It takes time and begins with the Lord’s Word, but this knowledge is magnified through prayer. By talking and listening to my heavenly Father, I sense His heart.

Trust…

There is a new theme in my life. PMTL—Pray More, Talk Less.

This is the hardest part for me. I am a doer. A controller. Like Rebekah, I think I know God’s will  and run ahead of Him. I connive and work things out according to my desires.

In Psalm 131: 1- 2, David says, “My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” After spending several years in caves, running for his life, David learned to trust God.

I need to rest in His Spirit—to trust His heart.

I learn to abide by watching and waiting. Prayer opens up intimacy with the Lord and I know His heart. I learn to trust Him by resting in His Word. It is a life-long journey.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (from Phil. 4: 6).We are to pray about everything—even chairs.

 

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by Pauline Hylton lives in Clearwater, Florida.