Seven ways to enlarge your prayer life without changing your schedule
Time to pray
By Bob Hostetler
All of us want to pray more. We want to make prayer a higher priority in our lives. We want to spend more time worshipping God and enjoying His presence. We want to be more faithful in our intercession for others. But in spite of our desires and resolutions, most of us find there are just not enough hours in the day to enlarge our prayer lives.
But what if I told you it was possible to enlarge your prayer life — considerably — without changing your schedule? What if I said that you might be able to increase the time you spend praying each day by half an hour or an hour? What if I promised you a growing prayer life in exchange for just a few minor adjustments to the things you already do in a given day?
It is possible. And not only is it possible, it’s easy — and painless — to revolutionize your spiritual life in the time you already have available. How? Try any of these suggestions:
1. Pray while you wait. I have always hated to wait in line — especially at the grocery store. I would tap my fingers, count the items of the person ahead of me in the express checkout lane, browse any magazine or tabloid that happened to be at hand. But not anymore. Now I use time spent waiting — in bank lines, traffic jams, airport terminals, or doctors’ offices — to pray.
Making prayer a priority
The Assemblies of God’s Week of Prayer is January 2-8. Fliers, posters and word of mouth are good ways to promote the Week of Prayer in churches. Gospel Publishing House has many resources and materials to support such efforts.
Individuals and congregations interested in bolstering their prayer lives can practice the following steps before, during and after the Week of Prayer:
- Memorize Luke 11:2-4.
- Designate each day of the week with a different prayer focus.
- Distribute prayer cards reminding people to pray for family members, friends, teachers, principals and government leaders.
- Start a prayer journal.
- Church leaders should encourage adults to mentor young people regarding prayer.
- Designate a time to meet each week at church to pray.
- Offer a class on practical biblical prayer.
Though January 2-8 is the official Week of Prayer for the Assemblies of God, organizers say individuals and churches can choose any week in the year for their Week of Prayer.
Visit gospelpublishing.com for more information, resources and tips.
2. Pray in the car. Once upon a time, music, talk radio, or audio books were my constant companions in the car; now God is. I make it a priority to use car trips — whether I’m running a short errand or driving between cities — to draw closer to God and stay faithful in intercession for others. In fact, on a recent cross-state road trip, I surprised myself by praying and worshipping for nearly four hours. Not only did the time pass quickly; more importantly, my prayer life received a major workout.
3. Pray on the phone. As a businessman, I spend more time on hold and talking to answering machines than I like. Not long ago, however, a routine phone call to the office of a friend changed my prayer life; while on hold, I remembered that I had earlier promised to pray for the friend to whom I was waiting to speak. So I did, and by the time his voice came on the line I had not only passed the time purposefully, I was also able to tell my friend that I had fulfilled my promise to pray for him. Since that call, I have made a habit of praying for the people on the other end of the line — even people I don’t know — any time I am placed on hold. Sometimes, I will even offer to end conversations with friends in prayer. I’ve yet to be refused.
4. Pray during commercials. I’ve often heard preachers propose that I shouldn’t be watching television if I’m not “all prayed up.” Well, that’s just fine, except I guess I’m not that disciplined. But I have developed the occasional habit of muting the television during commercial breaks to pray — sometimes for whoever’s on my heart at that moment, sometimes for friends and family members who may be watching the same show, and sometimes even for people I don’t know (such as that show’s actors, writers and viewers).
5. Pray with the help of “triggers.” Use triggers or reminders to prompt short moments of prayer throughout your day. Author Jan Johnson keeps a candle burning as she works; each time she notices the candle, she breathes a quick prayer. One year I carried a large disc in my pocket; every time I reached into my pocket for change, the disc reminded me to pray for several unbelieving friends. You might employ a specific picture, song, landmark or smell as a trigger to remind you to pray.
6. Pray while exercising. If you maintain a regular exercise regimen, why not merge it with prayer? You might even consider dividing your workout into prayer periods; for example, you may decide to praise while stretching, confess while warming up, intercede while working out, and give thanks and praise while cooling down. After all, “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8, NIV).
7. Pray what you see and hear. I’ve also tried to cultivate the habit of infusing prayer into as many waking moments as possible, by praying short prayers in response to the world around me. When I hear an ambulance siren, I may utter a brief prayer for the victim. When I see a funeral procession, I pray for the bereaved. When I open a card from a friend, I sometimes pray for the sender. There are times, of course, when I don’t know what to pray, but I’ll still say something like “Lord, please” or “Lord, have mercy,” and let the Holy Spirit fill in the blanks (Romans 8:26).
These small prayer habits have not made me into a mighty prayer warrior. I won’t be teaching seminars on “Powerful prayer” anytime soon. But you know what’s funny? As I’ve tried to squeeze more into the odd and mundane moments of my life, I’ve discovered that my prayer life is beginning to take over; believe it or not, it’s spreading into every area of my life (which I think is what Paul the apostle probably had in mind when he commanded Christians to “pray continually” 1 Thessalonians 5:17). And that’s not only changing how I pray; it’s transforming how I live.
Bob Hostetler is an award-winning writer whose books include the best-selling Right From Wrong (co-authored with Josh McDowell) and They Call Me A.W.O.L. He lives in Hamilton, Ohio.
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