I’m praying for all of you affected by the continuous natural disasters of late — water, fire, earthquake. Some might wonder where God is when disaster strikes. The answer is he’s right there with you, waiting for you to turn to him.
Most of us don’t seek him or take him seriously until our situation is dire, but friend, suffering and trusting yourself to God is where all the good stuff happens. As the saying goes, nothing grows without rain. The Bible tells us that we can even rejoice in suffering. “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope …”
I imagine when this is published that I will most likely not have electricity or internet, as we are in southern Florida awaiting Hurricane Irma, but I prepared these seven tools beforehand that have deepened my prayer life. I hope they grow yours too!
How do you feel about your prayer life? Maybe praying is second nature to you and you can do it with confidence. Or maybe you start off with “Dear God, it’s been awhile …” Maybe you don’t know what to say at all. But I can tell from personal experience that with practice, prayer becomes easier, deeper and even essential.
Wear a prayer bracelet
A few years ago my mom bought me this cross bracelet, and I started wearing it on days I seek specific prayer. Maybe a friend is sick, a nation is in crisis or I’m searching for an answer. Whatever the reason, wearing the cross reminds me to go to prayer instead of worry.
It also helps me keep good on my promise. How often have we told a loved one they would be in our prayers and we soon forgot? Once a friend gave me a prayer request and I put my bracelet on. I sent her a picture of it and told her I would pray for her every time I saw it that day. She was over-the-moon grateful and it lifted her spirits. That’s the kind of commitment I want to do more.
Keep a prayer journal
You can keep a hand-written journal or an electronic one on your computer. I write in mine a few times a week. It’s not a family update or a place to vent, it’s a place for me to write what God is doing in my life, what I have learned, how I have heard him speak or seen him move. It doesn’t have to take long, just five to ten minutes.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a journaler, give this a shot for a couple weeks. When you walk through trying times, it’s a comfort to see how he has been faithful in the past. It also keeps record of prayers, some of which have been answered in unexpected ways that might have slipped past you.
As I skim over my journal for this past year, I can see how much patient care God has taken with me. I see lessons learned, prayers answered, an open invitation from him to ask more questions and desire to teach them to me. He has a plan for you life and this is one way to help see it.
My apologies if you’re sick of hearing this fun little trick of mine. It just fits in so well here! I have a mug with each family member’s name on it. Each morning I pick one at random and pray for that person as I drink my coffee or tea. I started it because I wanted to pray for my family more, but I didn’t expect they would be so excited about it! “You know what you have to do now?” my son says when he sees his letter.
Scripture board or book
One of my goals this year was to memorize one verse each month. That probably sounds easy to most of you, but memorizing is so difficult for me! But I’m done with that excuse and doing it anyway.
For these verses, I taped them to my mirror in the bathroom, right where I would see my face and practice saying it while getting ready. Prayer takes on a whole different dimension when you are using the actual word of God, when you know his promises and guidelines for you. This one is powerful.
Adult coloring with scripture
When the adult coloring rage began, I’ll be honest, I thought it was a little silly. But after a major bout of anxiety, I bought a scripture coloring book and have changed my mind! I enjoy the repetitive strokes, distracting my mind with colors schemes and, most of all, meditating on the scriptures. I pick on from the page and try to memorize it, repeat it and absorb its truth.
Scheduled and unscheduled prayer time
Most days I try to spend an hour with the Lord in the morning. I pencil it in for a certain block of time. It doesn’t always work out with the kids or our schedule, and I’m flexible about it, but most times it does work. My quiet time goes something like this:
- I pray to hear from God and for him to impart his wisdom to little ol’ me. I pray for my family and others. Sometimes during that time, a person will come to mind to reach out to. I pray for my kids to give me this time with him!
- I write in my prayer journal for five to ten minutes.
- I’m involved in a couple different Bible studies that have “homework” that I also do during this time. I love those short daily assignments. They keep me on track and teach me things I know I would not discover on my own.
- Sometimes I read my Bible further in search for answers to questions my studies have stirred up.
- I pray again and sit still, letting what I have learned sink in and wait for his still voice to speak to my heart.
- Then I reach out to those that were on my mind. I make a phone call or send an email or text. I think about something kind I can do for someone else.
The days that I do these things, especially reach out to others, are the best days. I’m not a naturally generous person, but I have learned that you can teach yourself to be one. You can teach your children to be generous. There is no greater/happier/comfort that there is in serving others.
Being involved in a Bible study will change your prayer life and walk with God in a beautifully dramatic way. You will learn things you didn’t know you wanted to learn. You will learn new ways to pray. You will be a part of a new support and community that can overwhelm your heart.
If you’re a commitaphobe, I get it. So am I! I can’t commit to anything that meets on a regular basis — except Bible studies. In the beginning I was nervous about who I would talk to or if I would be able to even flip quickly to the chapter in discussion.
Or if you don’t have one to join, start your own! One Bible study I currently attend goes through a chapter of the Bible each week and meets Monday mornings to discuss our findings and thoughts. Another (larger) group I’m in does prayer cards for one another and I keep them as my bookmark so I remember to pray daily for one of my sisters in Christ.
If you are looking to grow your faith and find a purpose in your life, I absolutely cannot recommend joining a Bible study more. Just do it! I promise you won’t regret this invaluable experience.
I would love to pray with you! What are you praying for? Can I join you?