Prayer is our spiritual work and it is our weapon in very real spiritual warfare. It is, in fact, vital! So why is it then that so many of us deal with struggles in our prayer life? I believe that much of our struggle stems from two major roadblocks.
The first roadblock is TIME. No matter your season of life, you are busy. Students have school time, homework, extra-curricular activities, family time, and often church and work obligations. Young mothers face all the demands of parenting young children, enough said! Even grandmothers are busier than ever before. No more front porch, rocking chair grandmas! Whatever your season, your life is full of obligations and commitments. So full, in fact, that it can be extremely difficult to “fit in” prayer time. I don’t know how many times throughout my life that I’ve jumped out of bed, started right into my day thinking I would take time for intentional prayer later on only to find myself climbing into bed at night thinking, “Oh no, I didn’t take time to pray!”
What might be some practical ways to maneuver around this roadblock?
- Begin by examining your schedule, your daily routines, and your obligations. Look for ways to pray as you live life. Driving, shopping, walking
the dog, and even brushing your teeth are all opportunities for prayer.
- Go on a quest. Discover a way to pray that is a natural connection to your unique, God-given wiring. If you love the outdoors, go outside to pray: take a walk, watch the sunrise, sit by a lake. If you love things of beauty and art, try Praying in Color, Illustrated Prayer Journaling, or praying while looking at a collection of beautiful photographs. If you come alive when your senses are aroused, try lighting candles or holding an object while you pray.
- Schedule it! Yes, I said SCHEDULE prayer. Many of us have learned that the best way to see that date night with our spouse is regularly observed is to schedule it. At first, it may have seemed odd to put our spouses on a calendar. But it worked! So schedule your prayer time. Write it on your calendar or set an alarm on your phone. Whatever it takes!
The second roadblock is CONTENT. Many times we feel hindered in our prayers because we simply don’t know what to pray. Sometimes our minds are just blank or so overly crowded we simply can’t think of what to pray, for whom. Caught in those moments, we often become guilty of offering up quick and vague prayers such as, “And, Lord, please bless (insert name) and help them to have a good day.”
Content can also be a problem when we don’t know if it’s okay to pray for something. Over the years, I’ve heard different people say they just didn’t know if it was “okay” to pray a certain thing. And when that becomes the issue, prayer sometimes just does not happen.
So how do we bypass this roadblock that so often results in vague prayers or no prayer at all?
- Ask your loved one how you can pray for them. Ask in person. Call them. Send a text. You can even solicit the prayer requests of very young children by asking their parents.
- Pray scripture. Praying scripture provides specific content AND when praying scripture we never have to wonder if it’s “okay” to pray what we are praying.
- Use resource sheets. There are many wonderful resource sheets available in books and on the internet. Do a google search for resources. If that takes too much time or effort, contact me. I have compiled several resource sheets in an effort to make them easier to access.
Implementation of any of these suggestions into a life of prayer will help us move from praying vague prayers to praying very specific prayers. And it is “okay” to do so. According to James 5:17-18, Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. Elijah, a man like us, prayed specifically.
E.M. Bounds said that, “God shapes the world by prayer.” It is a task worth the effort. So this week, I challenge you to do some “prayer” homework. Set aside some time – even if just a few minutes – to be intentional about finding practical, doable ways around those nasty roadblocks of time and content.