Last summer I really dove into the spiritual disciplines, specifically that of prayer.
I set up a prayer notebook and dedicated specific times of day for pursuing prayer.
What I found during that time is that:
1.) I’m not by nature a morning person. I really struggled to wake up and get to my morning devotional time.
2.) I found it difficult to focus while praying and spent most of my time asking forgiveness for irreverently falling asleep mid-prayer.
3.) I get distracted by spontaneous thoughts and forget what I’m praying about. I felt so overwhelmed by everything I wanted to and should be praying about, I found myself not praying for any of it.
So my solution to that disorganization was first an honest look at myself and an understanding that I’m not perfect. If you’re going to fix a problem, you have to be able to identify it first. So, I made myself a prayer guide.
I also wrestled with a few questions.
Isn’t reading a written prayer disingenuous?
No more so than praying random things because you’re unfocused and half-asleep.
Remember we aren’t heard for our many words. (Matthew 6:7)
I don’t so much write entire prayers (although I have before) as I read topics or subjects for prayer and it keeps me focused on what I’m praying about.
What I pray for in each of those subjects is organic and based on whatever scripture I’ve read prior to beginning my prayers.
I pray with my eyes closed, how can I read and pray reverently with my eyes open?
This question may seem silly, but when I was taught to pray, I was taught that you bow your head, fold your hands, and close your eyes.
As an introvert, I am way too much in my head most of the time. I get lost in my own thoughts, both good and bad.
Praying with my eyes open allowed me the focus I needed to be reverent in heart and mind. (1 Peter 4:7) When I find my thoughts wandering, I glance at my guide and I’m right back on track.
What if I’m prompted to pray for something not on my guide for that day?
Let’s not get neck-deep into legalism here. The beauty of a guide is that is precisely that– a guide. It isn’t a mandate or something concrete; it’s a starting point for greater intentionality in prayer.
If the Holy Spirit prompts you to pray for someone or something not on your guide, do it. (Galatians 5:16-23) That’s obedience.
I often find that as I’m praying for a specific situation, someone will spontaneously pop into my mind. I turn my prayer to supplication or intercession for that person or thing and then I go back to my guide. What I don’t do is ignore those things.
Even if it’s a negative distraction, ignoring it won’t make it go away. Ask the Lord to focus your heart and mind and address the spontaneous thought. Then you can return to what you were praying for before.
Sometimes if the distraction is related to tasks or responsibility, I write it down someplace (post-its and notebooks are wonderful things) so I can get it out of my brain space and move on to my prayer time undistracted.
What if I missed my prayer time and didn’t get to pray for certain subjects?
This happened to me a lot this year. I found my most consistent prayer mornings were Thursdays. I don’t know the reason for this, but as such, over the course of about 2 months, I spent statistically more time praying for unbelieving family, friends and neighbors than anything else. I suppose that’s a good thing, but the point of the guide is to foster greater consistency. It will help make you more aware of your own habits and tendencies, as well as encourage you to be more consistent and intentional in your prayer life.
I pray for my spouse, kids, and myself daily. Additionally, each day my prayers have a specific focus. For example, Sundays I pray for my pastors, our church, and for it’s overall ministry. Mondays, because they’re the start of the workweek, I pray for my family’s finances, jobs, and businesses.
Here is a pretty version of My Prayer Guide for you!
If this seems too specific or doesn’t fit your current season of life, I also have a Blank Prayer Guide you can print and fill in for yourselves!
The important thing here is that you start PRAYING!
Let me know what you think in the comments. God bless!