Make It a Daily Practice
Sometimes, prayer can be exceedingly difficult. Yes, prayer is a conversation with God; but it’s not quite like talking to a friend sitting across the table. Trying to communicate with someone we can’t see can be tough.
Thinking of prayer as a habit can make it simpler. I call my parents every Monday evening to check in and to update them on my week. Calling home has become a habit, and I feel odd if I don’t call. I try to view prayer in a similar way—as regularly checking in with God. My dad would set five alarms on his watch to go off throughout the day. When the alarms sounded, no matter where he was, he would pause to say a prayer. His prayers were not always long or complex, but this practice kept him in the habit of communicating with God.
If you want to pray more often, make it a daily habit. Set an alarm on your phone or pray when you’re eating lunch or changing classes. Pairing an activity with prayer will help you connect to God and build a stronger prayer life. Even if you don’t know what to say, keep the appointment. Romans 8:26 (NRSV) says that in those times when we don’t know how or what to pray, God’s Spirit intercedes for us “with sighs too deep for words.”
Todd Naevestad [Davis, IL]
Trust God to Hear Unspoken Prayers
Prayer is amazingly beautiful. It is an intimate, powerful way of communicating with God. Through prayer, we speak to God and God speaks to us. It’s a divine conversation that strengthens our faith.
Sometimes in prayer, words flow effortlessly; we have so much to say, so much to ask, so much for which to thank God. At other times, however, we can’t find the exact words to say, so we decide not to pray at all, or we wait until we feel like praying. Still other times, life becomes so tough that we don’t have the strength to pray or to continue praying about a situation that has gone on for a long time. And in an emergency, we may not have the time.
When prayer seems difficult, we can be encouraged because God hears even our unspoken prayers. Our tears have a voice. Our sighs, groans, whispers, and desires all become prayers. Unspoken prayers express thanks, cry out for help, and ask for wisdom. They are genuine, and God hears and answers them too. God knows us inside and out and can interpret what we’re trying to say, no matter how we say it.
Nakia Gater [Orlando, FL]
Remember to Pray in Good Times and Bad
God is with us when bad things happen and also when good things happen. We can practice praying and praising God all the time.
Remembering to pray is easier when we’re struggling. When we are going through hard times or even having a bad day, we cry out to God and ask for help. But during the good times? Not so much.
Too often we forget that God has blessed us with everything we have: family, friends, work, food, clothing, shelter. God has given us opportunities to live our dreams. Every day is filled with reasons to pray and to offer praises for all that God has done in our lives. And practicing our prayers when times are good will make it easier to come to God when life is difficult and words don’t flow.
Bethany Acker [Plover, WI]
FEBRUARY 25, 2017
NEXT DAY STRETCH
Begin a prayer practice that helps you remember to pray during the good times so that when life gets tough, talking with God will be a natural response. If you need an idea, try one or more of these:
START A GRATITUDE JOURNAL:
Each day, write in your journal things that happened during the day for which you are grateful. Try to list at least 5 things each day. In difficult times, read back through your entries and remember your blessings.
TRY A GRATITUDE JAR:
If you are not into journaling, write on slips of paper the things you are grateful for during the day, and drop them into a jar or container. When you are having a rough day or season, read these papers and be reminded that God is at work to bring good out of every situation.
EXAMINE YOUR DAY:
In your mind, replay the events of the day as if you were watching a movie. Recall the highs and lows, the times you felt loved or unloved, the times you were grateful or ungrateful. Notice where you saw God. Then pay attention to the ways God shows up tomorrow.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS:
Before going to sleep each night, take time to name the blessings you received that day, and give thanks to God. Then think of ways to use your blessings to bless others.
PRAY FOR OTHERS:
Throughout each day, pray for people you know or encounter who are facing difficult times. These prayers might become the ones you offer for yourself when you are struggling and cannot seem to find words to pray.