Tag Archives: prayer

20 Tools to Help You Pray: Refocus Challenge Week 3

20 prayer toolsWelcome to the 5 Week Refocus Challenge. I have set up this challenge to find my way back to the best God has for my life. Instead of being swept away by the tides of busy schedule, bursting closets, and an overstimulated mind, my prerogative is to return to closeness with Jesus, to refocus my worship on Him. One way to do that is by rekindling my prayer life. In the last post, I mentioned 5 reasons we can’t stay focused in prayer. I will address the 5th issue here today: no one has taught us how to pray.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:

“‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” Luke 11:1-4

If the disciples had to ask Jesus how to pray, then perhaps we should shed our arrogant facade and admit we need some instruction too. Prayer comes naturally sometimes, and sometimes it feels forced. I love talking to God, but I think prayer is so much more than that. Discouraged in my prayer life, I attended a very helpful seminar lead by Chuck Lawless. The ideas he shared brought clarity to my perspective of prayer. Since then, I have acquired a few more tools over the last few months that have helped rekindle my prayer life:

  1. Practice: Don’t be discouraged if your prayer life feels weak. Your prayer muscles wont become strong without regular exercise and practice.
  2. Let Scripture Inspire You: When we read God’s heart in His Word, we can connect with Him more intimately as we pray His desires.
  3. Pray spontaneously: This is where most of us gravitate. We pray what we feel, in the moment, for the moment. This can be beautiful, authentic, and raw.
  4. Use a Prayer Blueprint: This is the opposite of a spontaneous prayer. We naturally pray for ourselves, our needs, etc. A “blueprint” reminds us to pray in repentance, pray for the global church, and focus on praise and thanksgiving. Find pre-written prayers in Psalms, church resources (Book of Common Prayer, etc.), and even Pinterest!
  5. Pray through A.C.T.S.: This is a simple blueprint that reminds us to focus on Adoration of God, Confession of our sins, Thanksgiving for His gifts, and Supplication for our needs and the needs of those around us.
  6. Pray ACTS specifically: Spend Monday meditating on God’s amazing character. Adore Him for an entire day. Spend Tuesday with an open heart to conviction; repent as the Holy spirit makes you aware of your selfishness. Take all day Wednesday to thank God for His gifts! These 3 days will sharpen your perspective of God, boosting your confidence for Thursday, the day you spend praying for others (supplication).
  7. Get a prayer app: I appreciate Echo for helping me keep track of names and needs I commit to pray for. It also has a timer so I can focus on prayer with out distractions!
  8. Let others See You Pray: Jesus prayed intimately and personally with the Father in front of the disciples. My parents did the same each night they tucked me into bed. We can do the same in front of our children, siblings, roommates, spouses, and parents. If we do so to honor God, not ourselves, we can provide others with a powerful example of how to pray.
  9. Prayer Walking: Get active and pray outside the box! Walk downtown, in your neighborhood, on a college campus, or at the mall. Allow buildings, people, and billboards to shape the focus of your prayers.
  10. Drive-by Prayers: Same as prayer walking, just pray as you drive. I’ve started praying for the joggers I see on my way to church on Sunday morning.
  11. Pray Proactively: We tend to allow negative events and fear shape our prayer life. What if we prayed ahead of time for health, connected marriages, salvations, and closer walks with Jesus.

    Prayer is not just a response to life, it is our life. -Chuck Lawless

  12. Screen-time Power: Our phones can be dramatic distractions in our lives. Find ways to replace social media scrolling, games, constant texting, and google searches with moments of intimate prayer. You can also incorporate prayer into your screen time, seeing Instagram through God’s eyes, praying for your Facebook friends, etc.
  13. STOP: stands for Student Time of Prayer. Decide with your friends or family on a moment in the week you commit to stopping together, even in different location, to pray. (Interestingly, other religions do this as a cultural norm.)
  14. Target Supplication: Pray for a different sphere of influence each day of the week: family, work, local church, government, persecuted church, spouse, friends, etc.
  15. Prayer Support: Paul asked for prayers that he might be bold to share the gospel. Who do you know is sharing the gospel that you can pray for their boldness?

    And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Col. 4:3-4

  16. Pray On the Spot: Ask people how you can pray for them, then ask if you can pray with them, right there and then.
  17. Invent a Prayer Trigger: Every time I ________, I will spend a moment in focused, intimate prayer. The meal prayer is a perfect example, but it often gets overshadowed by hunger and busyness. Invent a new prayer trigger like getting in the car, brewing coffee, saying goodbye, tucking my kids in, etc. Bonus: make your prayer trigger a community event with your spouse, family, classmates, etc.
  18. Clean and Repent: While scrubbing the floors, I confess my sin. As I weed the garden, I pray for God to rip the roots of pride out of my life.
  19. Prayer Massage: give your friend, sibling, or spouse a back rub or foot massage as you pray for their physical health, spiritual intimacy with God, and boldness to share the gospel in their lives.
  20. Praise through the ABC’s: use the alphabet to help you think of various things to thank God for in your life: Legs that walk, my Mom’s presence, the Neighbors kindness, for Opening my heart to your gospel, for Perseverance through a trial, etc.

Week 3 Challenge:20 tools to help you pray

(You will notice the week 3 challenge has you praying specific ACTS prayers throughout the week)

  • Monday, Aug. 24: Take a moment to be still tonight, and connect with God, intimately, for 10 minutes.
  • Tuesday, Aug 25: Practice praying simple prayers of adoration today: tell God how great He is, just because He is God. Pray Psalm 145 as a reference.
  • Wednesday, Aug 26: Offer a prayer of confession. Open up your heart to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and acknowledge with God the areas in your life you have dishonored him. Feeling stuck? Pray through Psalms 32.
  • Thursday, Aug 27: Set your heart on thanksgiving! Throughout the day, train your thoughts to say “Thank you” to God for each moment, person, blessing, or trial you encounter. Then check back for Rekindling Prayer Part 2: How to pray.
  • Friday: August 28: Spend time praying for the needs of those around you. Focus on God’s heart for them: to enter into relationship with Him through Jesus, to grow in faith, to share the gospel, etc.
  • Saturday Aug 29: Pick a “prayer tool” above and practice it with a friend or family member.
  • Sunday, Aug 30: Pick a prayer tool you can incorporate into your daily schedule for the next 6 months. Mine is the focused ACTS prayers.

Check In:

What is your favorite prayer tool to keep you focused?

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Rekindle Your Prayer Life: Refocus Challenge Week 3

rekindle your prayer life

Today, my husband said to me, “woman, we need to go on a date. It’s been too long.”

I wholeheartedly agreed. It’s been a long couple of weeks gearing up for the school year, and Shane and I need a chance to reconnect.

When I think about how I need to rekindle my love life, I am reminded of the importance of rekindling my prayer life. Prayer is the hearth for which one’s relationship with God first takes spark. Prayer is the fuel that keeps it burning bright. Prayer is the ember that, when the fire is burning hot, floats unchecked to help kindle a new person in faith.

When we gather around a campfire of grace, we see clearly the center of our fellowship is praying to God, because of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.

Hear my prayer, O Lord, Give ear to my supplications! Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness!

Psalm 143:1

5 reasons we don't engage in prayer pinIf prayer is such a crucial and beautiful act of our faith, why is it so difficult to engage in? I think the top 5 reasons are:

  1. We have a worship problem (idolatry)
  2. We are intimidated to approach the great throne of our King
  3. God is not visibly present for the conversation
  4. Boredom
  5. No one has ever taught us how to pray

1. We have a worship problem (idolatry) 

Idolatry is the great enemy of a thriving prayer life. We tend to be too busy paying attention to other things and people to devote our attention to God. Not only does this decrease the amount of time we are available to pray, it cheapens our quality of time with God.

It is clear when my idols are more important to me than God: I am easily redirected from focused prayer. When I have a worship problem, I don’t put myself in an environment or position to give God my all. I keep my idols close, even when I pray. My phone rings, my mind wanders, my eyes droop with sleepiness, and my prayer time is over. These completely sabotage spiritual intimacy. I must get my heart right with God, and practice God-worship every other minute of the day, to adequately prepare my 15 minutes to pray.

2. We are intimidated to approach the great throne of our King

It is imperative that we remember our identity in Christ before we pray. It enables us first to boldly approach our King and Father, confident He sees Christ in us, rather than our imperfection. Secondly, remembering our identity administers humility in us. Proper perspective of our past and present circumstances in Christ helps us to pray with conviction, gratefulness, and urgency.

3. God is not visibly present for the conversation 

When we adopt the right perspective of God and ourselves, we stop thinking of prayer as a one-sided conversation. Our God is not an “invisible” God. When I choose to see God with my hearts-eyes, I find He is more tangible and present than anything I can fix my earthly eyes on.

4. Boredom

After existing in high-stimulus environments every hour of the day, we tend to feel lost and uncomfortable in prayer. God calls us to a sense of stillness, where hushed hearts are ready to connect with Him. To engage in the still moments of prayer, we must renew our thoughts to be focused, becalmed, and single-minded.

Father,

Thank you for hearing our prayers. You are worthy of our attention and praise. Help us to pray, teach us to pray, show us the value of connecting with you through prayer. Give my friends and sisters reading this today a burning urge to get away with you and rekindle the conversation with you, God.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

Week 3 Challenge:

  • Monday, Aug. 24: Take a moment to be still tonight, and connect with God, intimately, for 10 minutes.
  • Tuesday, Aug 25: Practice praying simple prayers of adoration today: tell God how great He is, just because He is God. Pray Psalm 145 as a reference.
  • Wednesday, Aug 26: Offer a prayer of confession. Open up your heart to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and acknowledge with God the areas in your life you have dishonored him. Feeling stuck? Pray through Psalms 32.
  • Thursday, Aug 27: Set your heart on thanksgiving! Throughout the day, train your thoughts to say “Thank you” to God for each moment, person, blessing, or trial you encounter. Then check back for Rekindling Prayer Part 2: How to pray.

Check In:

How do you connect with God in prayer?

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The No-show Blues: leading a Bible study when only 1 person shows up

adult-bible-study2Ministering to college students includes a unique factor of epic inconsistency in numbers. Particularly for those of us in small-town ministries, most pastors and Bible study leaders have experienced the night when only 1 person shows up. Our experience typically follows a strict schedule of worry, insecurity, then eventual trust in God.

Within the first 1/2 hour ministry is supposed to begin, I will have gone through the following thinking process:

  1. Is this the right evening?
  2. Was there a major car accident blocking the road?
  3. Did everyone collaborate to go bowling and forgot to inform the one person who came to Bible study?
  4. Is my teaching/leading really that bad?
  5. I wonder if I should text all of them.
  6. I worked so hard on this lesson, should I save it for a larger group next week, or share it with just one person?

5824After making it through issues of personal insecurity presumed to be dealt with in my high-school years, I realize I need to cut the mental break-down and the small talk. This one person showed up to meet with God; it is my job to actually engage him/her* in some meaningful conversation.

So I move forward with the lesson. God planned it for this night for a reason, even if only for one person. We go deeper personally into the word, talking together about how it impacts each of us. There is more feedback and intimacy–not what I was expecting for the material. Eventually, we get to the topic of salvation. Turns out, this one person has never heard the gospel explained. Thinking themselves as a Christian by default, (s)he kept coming to Bible study.

I share my testimony, read truth from John and Romans, and wait for a response. The individual says thank you for sharing and promised to think hard about it. While (s)he hasn’t accepted Christ yet, (s)he keeps coming to Bible study (and, for the record, so does the rest of the group).

Regardless, this moment reminded me of my insecurity. With all my planning and organization, I am insufficient; I recall my great need to rely on the Holy Spirit. I rearrange the importance of salvation conversations in my mind. He gives me courage to hope for a 1-person Bible study more often.Young Adults

From now on in my study preparations, I pray to be faithful and reliant on Him for whatever opportunity He brings.

*name and gender withheld for confidential reasons

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