Rethinking Prayer

IMG_3274Prayer is exhausting. In many ways, it’s like a sport. There needs to be a genuine desire to participate, and it requires discipline to set the time aside to practice. Depending on the amount and depth of your concerns, it can feel like your soul is running a marathon every single day. Every now and again, you may just want to take a rest day – forget about all your worries and slowly fall asleep with your favorite show on Netflix playing in the background. After all, you’re only human.

But Scripture specifically tells us to pray without ceasing and with all kinds of […] requests. (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18). If this is to be taken seriously, there should be no rest days, no off season, when it comes to prayer. There truly is no rest for the weary.

Up until this point, I’ve tried to get through all my prayers at one time, usually at night. I’ve come to discover that there’s a few kinks in the nightly ritual. For one, it can be hard to stay focused for the long amount of time that prayer usually takes. My mind eventually wanders, I get off track, and my prayers feel less sincere. I’ve also found that while some “major” things receive passionate prayer, other “less significant” things get glossed over in the race to the end. Ultimately, with a list that seems to expand every day, and with so many dire concerns, I think I may have burnt myself out.

All of this is not to say that prayer is not a wonderful privilege. Open, consistent communication with the Father strengthens your relationship with Him. Praying for others causes you to care for them more deeply. The problem is that prayer can be a mountainous task, and we tend to put off such things. How can we be in prayer more consistently, more effectively? I think the answer may lie in time management. I propose that, instead of trying to get through all our prayers in one fell swoop, we should take them in segments. Allow me to explain.

  1. Break up your prayers throughout the day. Go through a certain amount of your prayers at one point during the day, and conclude at a later point. It may help to categorize your prayers. For example, I like to pray for the concerns of my close friends and family, as well as myself in the morning, and the general matters of life in the evening.

If you’re feeling adventurous…

  1. Expand your prayers over the week. Assign a few prayer requests to each day and go through the week. The benefit here is that you can take a day to give more attention to those aforementioned “less significant” things. It may be an interesting challenge to give deeper attention to specific concerns. Of course, if there are certain things you feel you need to pray daily for, continue to do just that.
  1. Whatever you do, stick to the schedule. If you set out to pray at a certain time, stay true to your word. Whatever your structure for prayer may be, don’t let yourself get distracted. That hilarious episode of The Golden Girls can wait. This instills the discipline that prayer requires.
  1. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Inquire of the Lord. Ask Him to deepen your desire to draw close to Him and weaken your vices. Prayer upon prayer.

We’re all still going to forget once in a while. Days can be draining, and sometimes we fall asleep before we plan to. Don’t kick yourself for it, but don’t use it as an excuse to slack off, either. Prayer shouldn’t be the most stressful part of your day. Find a routine that works for you, and run with it.

Check out my video version of this post here!